Driverless cars are rather like online banking; we all remember the time when every other person we knew didn’t trust using the internet to manage their bank accounts, but slowly, over time, we have come to trust such new-fangled wizardry.
There are currently so many companies with their fingers in the driverless pie that we must now start to consider that this isn’t just a fad – like the smart watch – and take the whole idea far more seriously. I mean, I hear there are even some people out there that don’t even like driving…
Of all the stories out there on driverless cars, many of which I’ve covered here, the Mercedes-Benz F 015 is one of the first to take on board the idea that maybe such vehicles just don’t need to look like typical cars anymore.
The F 015 (or the Mercedes F 015 Luxury in Motion, to give it it’s full title) looks alarmingly like a cross between a skateboard and Thunderbird 2 to my eyes, with a sleek profile that makes you look twice before you notice that there are even any windows on the car at all. With hardwood flooring (well, it is a concept car!) and white leather seats offsetting the LED touchscreen on which you simply tap “go” to start your journey, Mercedes are telling us what they think the future of driving holds for us all. It’s hard to argue, technology is moving at such a frightening pace these days.
The F 015 has an impressive range of 684 miles and is hydrogen powered and capable of generating its own electricity. The chassis and body is comprised of a combination of high-strength steel, aluminium and the now ubiquitous carbon fibre, and while it might be 40% lighter than a standard Mercedes, it clearly doesn’t compromise on the company’s traditional values of strength and rigidity.
If the exterior is an eye-catchingly sleek vision of beauty, the interior is as equally impressive. With a ‘variable seating system’ (swivel seats to you and I), each individual can be facing each other for those all-important work meetings on the go – as long as you don’t mind travelling backwards.
Mercedes describe the interior as a ‘digital living space’ with 6 digital displays. All easily accessed by doing away with the standard B pillar and adding rear passenger, backward opening doors.
We’ve come a long way already since the days when cruise control seemed like an absurd luxury and it was only a couple of years ago Mercedes powered their driverless Intelligent Drive research car all the way from Mannheim to Pforzheim in Germany. That’s 60 miles of coping with traffic and real roads.
Mercedes are pretty much at the forefront as far as driverless cars are concerned, having been exploring the technology for around 20 years already – and they say that this vision of the future will be on our roads in just another 15 years.
Images: mercedes-benz.com, wired.com
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