Published on March 29th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mercedes F 015 Concept To Possible Reality In 15 years
How many hours do you waste a day in traffic? This is the question that Mercedes is asking its customers and drivers around the world. As the car population grows faster than our roads are being expanded and built, the car driver in urban areas around the globe is subjected to longer commuting times and higher levels of wasted time in traffic. This is why the race is on between car companies to bring to market autonomous cars.
Most of the big car companies are currently testing driver-less cars and the hot spot for this testing is going on in California where the top technology companies are located. Yes; and the technology companies are also working to release their own driver-less cars. Internet search engine giant Google has already put a driver-less car on the road under-going test with people of all ages and walks of life.
Apple corporation is rumored to be starting work on their own driver-less car and billionaire music mogul Richard Branson is also taking to his Formula E race engineers on the idea of building and marketing their own driver-less car. Therefore it looks like the driver-less car is definitely on its way in the next 15 years.
Audi has already ‘driven’ a driver-less car over a lengthy journey. Volvo is currently testing a driver-less fleet in Sweden. Mercedes is working fast to bring to market a driver-less truck for highway only use to reduce driver fatigue, reduce accidents and improve delivery times.
The Mercedes F 015 is a concept total driver-less car that will offer more than just self driving. It is a moving robot vehicle that will be able to think for itself once fully developed.
Is this the dawn of trouble? For the coming generation of drivers (teenagers, gamers and toddlers) this will be their dream car. For current car enthusiasts, like me, we are not looking forward to being driven by a robot……by a chauffeur okay, but not a robot.
Why? Well with sporadic computer ‘hangings’ and handphones needing to be rebooted we are sure the computer systems running the ‘robot’ car might have a ‘bug’ and if this happens while we are chilling in our autonomously driven car how will this react in moving traffic. Will we hit another car, guardrail or end up down a ravine? In control of the steering wheel at speed with a clear mind……this we understand and trust for now.
Car companies are planning to introduce autonomous technology in new cars in phases as the technology evolves. Mercedes and its competitors from Germany and Japan have already included this technology in their current new generation of cars. Today you can drive a Mercedes almost autonomously within certain perimeters. However Mercedes wants to be the first car company to introduce a completely autonomous car (a robot car) in 15-years time. The start of this project was introduced to us very recent in San Francisco. The concept car is called the Mercedes F 015 (probably this is the fifteen model where fourteen earlier models did not make the final cut).
The F 015 was first shown to the public earlier this year in San Francisco at CES. Yes, a car was highlighted at a consumer electronics show (CES) because it has become an electronic item like a handphone and tablet. The F 015 drove around the city meeting residents and tourists giving them a firsthand impression of the future of mobility.
First impressions were good as this ‘robot car’ could talk, work around traffic, park itself, shutdown, startup and meet its owner all with commands coming via a handphone. Yes, the F 015 can be controlled by a handphone. However the 250 odd sensors around the car needs more work and technology to drive around pedestrians, small animals, cyclists, taxis, busses and so on.
Design of the F 015 is impressive. It is a large 17-feet long sedan (longer than the all new Mercedes S-Class) with 4 large wide opening doors. There are no protruding bumpers on the car. Small headlights sit recessed and the front grille is made out of dozens of LED lamps. The same lamps are used in the rear. These LED lamps can spell out ‘Stop’, ‘Go’ and so on to interact with pedestrians and other road users. The F 015 also ‘speaks’. Yes, it can interact with other pedestrians at cross walks and pedestrians can also talk back or wave to the F 015 to move along.
Large 26-inch wheels pushed to all corners with ultra low profile Pirelli (specially made for this project) tires provides good handling but we feel this is a little of an over kill for a car designed to be driven sedately.
On the inside you find 4 seats from Star Trek. The seats are surprisingly comfortable despite its look and offer full swivel function to allow all passengers to face each other while on the move. There is a steering wheel and two foot pedals for the driver to take over when needed. Each passenger can take control of the cars functions with the use of the touch screens on each door.
The touch screens work just like any tablet for music, connectivity, movies and so on. The driver can also transfer the mobility functions of the F 015 to any one of the passengers via their touch screen. This allows the driver to take a nap or watch a movie. There are many other functions and features incorporated in this F 015 and will probably have even more when the car is ready for global sales.
So left hand drive or right hand drive? We think the world will go either way when the car drives itself and by then toll payments, parking payments and merging into traffic and roundabouts will not be an issue. This would allow car manufacturers to cut production costs and allow ‘robot car’ owners to commute with no worries.