On the eve of the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, the CEO and chairman of Daimler AG, Dieter Zetsche, revealed the Mercedes-Benz F 015, a futuristic autonomous concept vehicle. The sedan is a peek into what the company believes is the future of the daily commute, giving passengers privacy, advanced technology, and—perhaps most importantly—more free time.
The silver concept looked like a low-slung, miniature Airstream trailer cruising down the Las Vegas Strip to the convention center where the show was held. The F 015 uses a zero-emission plug-in electric drive system with a hydrogen fuel cell. The two electric motors in the rear produce 272 hp and 294 ft lbs of torque. Mercedes says the vehicle has a driving range of 684 miles and a zero-to-62-mph time of 6.7 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 125 mph.
Gorden Wagener, vice president of design for Daimler, worked with his team to create the monolithic exterior, which has a 142-inch wheelbase to maximize space inside the rolling lounge. There are no B-pillars; all the doors open at an angle of 90 degrees, allowing the seats to electronically swing outward 30 degrees and grant passengers easier ingress and egress.
The entire grille is an LED display that changes color to indicate whether the car is driving autonomously (blue) or is being controlled manually (white). Using six screens and technology that responds to eye movements, gestures, or touchscreen swipes, passengers can monitor information about the vehicle and the outside world.
Alas, Zetsche acknowledges there are many social, legal, and regulatory hurdles to overcome before this concept could go into production. But he remains optimistic: “We already have today in Mercedes pieces of autonomous driving, up to 18 miles per hour. We will go in steps. This entire vision would be recognized within the next decade.” (mercedes-benz.com)