While Audi's placing its self-driving tech on display via its A7 Sportback's 550-mile journey from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas, Mercedes Benz has unveiled a more luxurious, ambitious – though less likely to become a reality soon – vision for the future of motoring.
Called the Mercedes Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion – thankfully it's more elegant than its name – the car is essentially an autonomous pod with an incredibly spacious interior.
Its aim is to carry you to your destination while providing a level of comfort most living room couches would struggle to match – Mercedes believes that as autonomous cars become the norm their interiors will evolve to more closely reflect our living spaces and the F 015 is a reflection of this transition.
With swivelling seats that enable the front and back passengers to face one another, touch screens running along the front and side panels and gesture and eye-tracking to boot, the F 015 is a considerable step forward from the standard family car.
The autonomy and the ecstasy
Did we mention it's autonomous? Well, to achieve this, the car boasts some incredible technology on its exterior. Enormous LED fields located at the front and rear of the vehicle communicate to others which driving mode the car is in, turning blue when autonomous and white when manual – yes, humans can still drive the F 015 should they so choose.
Those driving behind the F 105 may also notice the LEDs telling them to STOP or SLOW – the very cheek.
Like BMW, Mercedes has engineered a way for the car to drop passengers off before parking itself, and it knows its location to the millimetre thanks to Mercedes' "Extended Sense" technology, which constantly monitors the car's surroundings.
This technology even enables the car to detect pedestrians waiting to cross the road. When a hapless foot-walker is registered, the F 015 will halt and scan its surroundings to check if it's safe for the pedestrian to cross.
Once the car's determined that it is, a high-precision laser system projects from the front of the car, creating a virtual crosswalk accompanied by a "Please go ahead" audio prompt. We just hope the car knows when it has right of way or driving through urban areas will be slow going.
The F 015 is also environmentally conscious (of course it is). Boasting the F-Cell plug-in hybrid system first seen in Mercedes' F 125 research vehicle back in 2011, the car can travel 1,100 km (684 miles) on a single charge.
Now if it would just use that efficiency to make its way to the TechRadar garage we'd greatly appreciate it.
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