cutaway showing interior of Mercedes Benz F 015 prototype
Mercedes-Benz F 015 prototype

The car has to learn…especially when most cars at the beginning of the transformation will be driven by humans.

The S500 vehicle was outfitted with an impressive array of radar systems, ultrasound and cameras. In real-time, the system is communicating with maps and GPS information to know where it is and where it’s going. But even then, the car has to learn…especially when most cars at the beginning of the transformation will be driven by humans. Furthermore, these smart vehicles will have to learn how to drive defensively. Think about that. This means that autonomous cars are going to make mistakes, not as many as humans.

There will be mistakes and the press will pounce on them initially. Of course, smart cars will only get smarter and safer over time.

exterior rendering of Mercedes Benz F105 concept car
Mercedes-Benz F105 concept car

Mercedes’ new F 015 prototype only looks like a car from the outside. On the inside, it’s a mobile studio, lounge, office or whatever you want it to be at any time.

MBRDNA is working on more than just technology. The team is also heavily focused on user experience in the cabin. Since you’re not driving, what’s the point of a traditional cockpit. You now need to re-imagine the space. It’s quite spectacular really.

The entire concept of a car and the interior can be designed for more productive scenarios. In fact, Mercedes-Benz introduced a concept, “luxury in motion,” where the cockpit/cabin essentially represents a blank canvas.

Mercedes Benz Intelligent Drive E-class on highway in NV
Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive E-class test vehicle

Basically, the new 2017 E-Class will ship with semi-autonomous features. Change the module when technology and policies are ready and you’ll have a fully autonomous vehicle ready to go.

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the world’s first standard-production vehicle to be awarded a test license for autonomous driving in Nevada.

To allow autonomous driving functions to be tested, test vehicles previously had to be equipped with special hardware and software. This included additional sensors, modified steering and an adapted ESP. That is no longer the case with the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The standard-production vehicle is already extensively equipped with intelligent technology. This means that, for testing purposes, it is necessary to only make some small software modifications to the DRIVE PILOT control unit.

For the first half of the drive, I sat in the passenger seat while the car drove in fully autonomous mode.

Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group is well-regarded consultant and author who is expert on  digital transformation and the customer experience. This report is based on a number of visits he made to The Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA) as part of his ongoing research into innovation. Located in Silicon Valley, the facility employs about 150 full-time digital designers and prototypers.
Many years ago I wrote and produced a product video for the Porsche 928. I positioned it as “a legitimate alternative to air travel for the German intercity commuter.” The F105 concept is very much that – one can imagine a group working together in a comfortable space whilst they travel from hither to yon down the Autobahn at 200kph.
I also think that it’s instructive to see how other companies are testing and evolving their autonomous technology. Tesla has garnered it’s share of the headlines, but there is a long way to go.
cabin interior showing Nissan ProPilot
Nissan ProPilot
This week Nissan launched it’s ProPilot system. It will first be offered in the 2017 Serena minivan which will go sale in Japan later this year. It is intended for use on the open road and does not engage below 50kph.
Nissan went to great pains to manage expectations and downplay the hype. “It’s not full autonomous driving,” said Nissan EVP Hideyuki Sakamoto at the launch event, “it’s driver assistance technology.” Deputy General Manager Atsushi Iwaki added: “The driver must assume full responsibility. It is best to limit the function to helping the driver.”
So well did they make the point that Gizmodo’s headline was:

Nissan Encourages Drivers Not to Be Morons With Its Autopilot Feature

read more about Mercedes-Benz at briansolis.com

read more about Nissan ProPilot at Forbes

read more about Nissan ProPilot at Gizmodo

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