The first and most common question everyone asks upon returning from the annual Consumer Electronic Show is, “What was the coolest thing you saw at the show?”. Despite being roundly impressed with the evolutionary progress of quantum dot enhanced 4K Ultra HD televisions on display across multiple vendors, the plethora of wearable technologies flooding the consumer market throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the continuance of 3D printing leaping to an affordable foregone consumer conclusion, our answer might come as a surprise: it was a car.
But not just any car. Mercedes-Benz used the platform of this year’s Consumer Electronic Show to unveil the F 015 Luxury in Motion, a revolutionary automotive design shaped and driven by the technological forecast of tomorrow’s transportation landscape, where driving takes an autonomously-controlled backseat to the comforts of “modern luxury” as a passenger. While much at CES was about “today” or sometime soon, we commend the designers of the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion for looking much further and ambitiously ahead than anything else we saw at this year’s crowded showcase.
The F 015 Luxury in Motion could be seen as an amalgamation of many of the primary technologies highlighting this year’s show – gesture controls, intuitive smart learning technologies, adjustable ergonomics, high resolution displays, eye-tracking sensors, LED illumination, projection systems, and a fuel efficient hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain with a total of 684 zero-emission miles – a blue sky exploration defining the automotive experience, shifting away from the “driver” and toward the collective “passenger”. During our tour of the monochromatic silver bullet, the Mercedes design team emphasized the “mono volume” concept vehicle was shaped by the autonomous self-driving future, and it clearly shows this hands-off perspective throughout.
The near seamless exterior form factor is achieved using a new color-matching print application technology, applied onto the DLO (daylight opening, aka windows); from the exterior the all-metal finish continues the vehicle’s unibody sensual silver silhouette. Interior passengers are offered a clear view with the shaded clarity of sunglasses despite the dotted pattern obfuscating view from the outside. The other prominent exterior feature defining the vehicle’s profile are the array of LED modules adorning both the grill and rear of the F 015 (complete with a QR code license plate), large communication displays designed to relay whether the vehicle is being driven by driver or autonomously (designated by blue lighting), stopping, and turning. Additionally, an array of 360-degree sensors around the car monitors other surrounding vehicles and pedestrians, with a laser projection system at the front capable of offering pedestrians the outline of a crosswalk for safe passage when at a stop.
With an elongated 3610mm wheelbase Mercedes designers carved out a luxurious lounge-like environment, adorned with open-pore walnut wood, a river of plush carpeting, furnished with vis-à-vis seating, and six HD touch-projection displays encapsulating passengers from the front instrument and side panels. The polar bear white Nappa leather and chrome seats themselves are more akin to Fritz Hansen’s Egg Lounge Chair than traditional automotive seating, swiveling 30 degrees outward upon opening the rear-hinged doors to ease entry, designed to invite conversation and interaction amongst passengers versus the one-direction seating we’ve all become accustomed to within the confines of a car.
“The single most important luxury goods of the 21st century are private space and time…autonomously driving cars offer exactly that. With the F 015 Luxury in Motion, this revolutionary concept of mobility becomes tangible for the first time.We have a master plan in place to take the big leap required getting from technically feasible to commercially viable. The F 015 Luxury in Motion demonstrates where this may take us.” – Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz
Regardless whether you welcome or dread the epoch of self-driving vehicles, the Mercedes F 015 Luxury in Motion makes a strong case we’re in for a revolutionary change in our relationship with our vehicles, where the responsibility of controlling a vehicle is handed off to a wide assortment of learning and monitoring sensors far more attentive than the majority of drivers, and where passengers will be able to turn their focus to comfort, conversation, and interaction between points A and B.