January 7, 2015
German automaker Mercedes-Benz is opening the doors on self-driving automobiles with its F 015 “Luxury in Motion” research vehicle released at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The new vehicle demonstrates the future of driving with its inward facing seats and self-propelled and self-reliant technology that will be able to fully operate a car without human assistance. The release of Mercedes-Benz’s research vehicle will spark interest and gain attention among those who were previously skeptic about self-piloted vehicles and will likely place Mercedes as a leader in autonomous driving technology.
“Drivers will appreciate this way of traveling because the self-driving car will provide them with two more and more precious things: time and private space,” said Matthias Brock, research, development and environmental communications at Daimler AG, Stuttgart, Germany.
Daimler AG is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.
Other luxury automotive brands have been dabbling in self-piloted vehicles. With the lift in legal restrictions upon testing self-automated cars, brands have been able to expand testing from California to Florida to Germany to China.
For instance, German automaker BMW brought its technological research in highly automated driving to urban Chinese locations to help reduce traffic accidents in the country’s overpopulated cities (see story).
Mercedes-Benz’s research vehicle allows consumers on board to relax, work or communicate as they ride to and from destinations. The face-to-face seating options allows consumers to look at one another as they travel.
F 015 “Luxury in Motion” research vehicle
This vehicle was released at CES after being teased by Mercedes-Benz with hints before its unveiling at the trade show.
Mercedes created two short teaser social films, which show two robots engaged in a conversation about “her.” Talking about the concept in this playful, enigmatic way likely prompted consumers to tune in for more (see story).
Mercedes CES Facebook
Currently, autonomous driving features are present within luxury vehicles. For example, the stop-and-go feature which drives vehicles through traffic jams. As autonomous driving technology increases, drivers will be able to let go of more and more functions such as parking and driving at different speeds.
Self-piloted technology is based on data collected from ultrasounds, radars and cameras. It is predicted that in the future additional sensors will be added to perfect autonomous driving.
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 research vehicle has a stereo camera that measures what is up to about 164 feet ahead of the car, such as stationary objects, pedestrians and other vehicles. This camera also detects the lane and the twists and turns that are on the road.
Two long-range radars are installed on each side of the F 015 to determine traffic at intersections. There are also short-range radars that look at the immediate surroundings of the car.
A camera in the front detects traffic lights and another in the rear localizes the vehicle with the GPS system. This is helpful in the vehicle’s assistance from digital maps that contain the position of stop lines and traffic lights.
The intelligent drive controller analyzes data in real time and decides which driving maneuver will be best for the current situation of the car.
Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle
Mercedes-Benz retraced the original long distance drive of Bertha Benz from 1888 with the self-piloted vehicle as a test of its functions. The features have also been added to Mercedes-Benz trucks, a technology that could one day change the nature of long-distance truck driving.
Autonomous driving for all
Self-piloted automobiles will change the way cars are driven and traffic is handled. Other brands are dabbling in the field.
For instance, German automaker Audi demonstrated its new autonomous vehicle on a designated testing road in Tampa, FL.
Florida was chosen as the site because state law allows autonomous vehicles to be tested on roads. The law allows Audi to move ahead with the creation of this vehicle by permitting test runs on actual freeways, which also direct publicity upon the brand and the self-piloted car (see story).
The testing of these vehicles is providing opportunities for automakers to perfect the automobiles for future use among all drivers.
“In principle, all drivers are the target group,” Mr. Brock said. “Because thanks to autonomous driving, the car will support the driver in situations where driving doesn’t make fun. In stop-and-go traffic for example. “
Nancy Buckley, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York