Living room in a green futuristic car from Daimler AG

Cars
that drive themselves are not just the stuff of sci-fi movies. The technology
is real, the cars can now drive legally and the debate is starting on whether
society is better off when software is behind the wheel.
Green technology is taking over the
automotive industry; whether we’re talking about electrics, hybrids, plug-ins
or cars that use alternative fuel, finding a more environmentally savvy way to
get from one place to another is important to everyone. Fuel efficiency and the
impact of automotive emissions have been at issue for a long time; our
dependence on fossil fuels and rising fuel prices has encouraged politicians,
consumers and automakers to push for more green cars. Green technology is
producing cars that get more miles to the gallon and cost far less to keep.

Car
manufacturer Daimler AG have created a concept autonomous vehicle that runs on
environmentally friendly fuel that is aimed at keeping you free so you can
spend more time with loved ones on the road. Germany’s Daimler AG wants to
reset consumers’ expectations about self-driving cars with its futuristic Mercedes-Benz
F 015 concept, unveiled at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“Anyone
who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving
will change our society,” said Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche,
one of this year’s keynote speakers at CES. “The car is growing beyond its role
as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.”

Daimler
AG wants to reset consumers’ expectations about self-driving cars with its
futuristic Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept, unveiled at CES. 
(Image credit: Mercedes-Benz
/ Daimler AG)

Until
now, automakers such as Daimler and Volkswagen AG’s Audi have largely focused
on developing automated systems, including braking and steering, that make cars
safer and easier to operate. The F 015 luxury sedan concept, with its spacious
cabin and lounge-like seating for four, explores new possibilities for
self-driving cars that can double as virtual living rooms on wheels and in
keeping with Mercedes tradition and the concept’s “luxury in motion” theme, the
postmodern passenger space is trimmed in walnut veneer, nappa leather, polished
aluminum and glass, with soft blue LED lighting.

The
F 015 can be operated autonomously or manually. When the vehicle is in fully
driverless mode, the four motorized lounge chairs can be rotated to allow
face-to-face conversations. When required for manual operation, the driver’s
chair swivels back to face forward. To facilitate connectivity with the outside
world, the F 015 is equipped with six digital display screens throughout the
cabin. The screens can be activated via gestures, eye-tracking or touch.

Mercedes
wrapped all that fancy hardware and software in a lightweight, impact-resistant
structure of carbon-fiber, aluminum and high strength steel. The concept was
also designed to accommodate an electric motor and hydrogen fuel cell. The F
015 represents a huge leap forward conceptually and stylistically from the
Mercedes-Benz S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle that piloted itself on a
100-kilometer journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim in August 2013.

The
2013 journey, made in a specially modified S-Class sedan equipped with various
automated systems, traced the path driven 125 years earlier by Bertha Benz,
wife of company co-founder Karl Benz, in one of the world’s first
gasoline-powered automobiles. Mercedes currently equips several of its production
vehicles with a variety of semi-automated systems, including parking assist,
traffic jam assist and steering assist. The company’s forward vision, embodied
in a project titled “City of the Future 2030+”, sees self-driving cars as a
springboard for redesigning traffic-dense urban spaces with unique “safety”
zones accessible only by autonomous vehicles.

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