Here is a truly futuristic look at the world of limousines in the mid-term future: the new Mercedes F015 concept for CES in Vegas. Wider than the S-Class but otherwise very similar in dimensions, the F015 takes a look at what luxury transport will be like within 5 to 10 years.
Standard driver-operated modes have the lights outside shining white, and the front seats facing forward with the steering wheel and pedals as normal.
Switch to autonomous driving mode, and the lights outside flick to blue, the steering-wheel sinks into the dash, and the four seats become a conversation lounge. The idea of the car informing other road users of its auto-pilot or driver-operated modes is a subtle but brilliant insight.
The F015 is perfect for party people in Vegas — where there is one of the highest taxi-cab penetrations outside NYC. It also shows how Mercedes-Benz sees the auto-driving luxury limo market in the future. The tech of the F015 is doubtless able to be applied to regular Mercedes models, but a special flagship car like this shows strong initiative to the world, and may have market potential beside the S-Class proper.
A tailor-made “eco-lux” experience with the option of self-driving?
2025: sign me up.
Or perhaps even sooner?
Uber drivers, be warned. You have been put on notice.
The Mercedes F015 is coming.
Reinventing the car, since 1886: the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion
- The F 015 Luxury in Motion is a research vehicle and vision of the future of autonomous driving – unveiled today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas
- Designed from the outset as an autonomous car, creating new possibilities in vehicle design, packaging and connectivity – a mobile living space
- Body structure is extremely rigid yet lightweight, weighs 40 per cent less than current cars of a similar size due to the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, aluminium and steel
- Interior space unlike any other – capable of seating four adults either facing each other or in tandem – is finished in natural open grain wood, aluminium, glass and leather
- Measures 5,220 mm in length, is 2,018 mm wide and 1,524 mm tall – making it similar in length to an S-Class long wheelbase, albeit both wider and taller
- Maximum interior space made possible by a wheelbase measuring 3,610 mm – 445 mm more than the current S-Class long wheelbase
- Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society. The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.”
- The F 015 made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, California – starting the New Year with a bold look into the future of transport, of autonomous driving and the possibilities it opens up in packaging, in design, in integration and in how we use cars in our lives
- Four individual lounge chairs are accessed via twin, rear-hinged doors that open to 90 degrees – the seats swivelling by 30 degrees to allow easy ingress and egress
- Interior is like no other – a mobile living space crafted out of open grain walnut, glass, ice white nappa leather and aluminium. Connectivity is through a choice of six screens seamlessly integrated throughout the interior, controlled via eye-tracking, gesture recognition or touch
- The F 015 Luxury in Motion can operate in manual or autonomous modes. Large LED light modules on the front and back of the car denote which mode it’s operating in, with white indicating it’s being driven manually and a cool blue hue for when it’s in autonomous mode. With manual mode engaged, the front seat driver and passenger seats swivel automatically to face the direction of travel and the steering wheel emerges seamlessly from the dashboard
- Capable of being powered by hydrogen fuel cells, the powertrain in the F 015 Luxury in Motion draws inspiration from the pioneering F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID system first seen in the F 125! research vehicle from 2011 – allowing for the on-board generation of electricity and storage via a series of high-voltage batteries
- The all-new body structure is made up of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, aluminium and high strength steel. Resulting structure is around 40 per cent lighter than today’s production cars of a similar size and is extremely strong – enhanced by the external beltlines below the windows which inflate in the case of a side-on collision to protect the occupants of the car
- Length/width/height (mm): 5,220/2,018/1,524 (S-Class long wheelbase L/W/H: 5,246/ 1,899/1,496)
- The first steps towards an autonomous future were taken in August 2013 when an S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE completed the 62-mile drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim without any driver input – retracing the route taken by Bertha Benz in 1888 on the first recorded journey by a car
- The research vehicle marks the start of an exciting year and a busy January – with the new C 350 Plug-in Hybrid and the GLE Coupé both being unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show next week
- The full press pack can be found below
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion
Forerunner of a mobility revolution
Stuttgart. With the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE and the Future Truck 2025, Mercedes-Benz has already made the vision of autonomous driving become reality. The new research vehicle F 015 Luxury in Motion had its world premiere at the Consumer Electronics Show, and provides a concrete example of the visionary ideas the company is developing with regard to autonomous driving of the future. With this self-driving luxury saloon Mercedes-Benz illustrates how the car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a private retreating space. This new way of travelling gives passengers the freedom to use their valuable time on the road in manifold ways.
Progressing from the self-propelled (“automotive”) to the self-reliant (“autonomous”) vehicle, Mercedes-Benz as a pioneer goes far beyond the purely technical realisation of automated driving. The company’s experts also have to anticipate different outlooks and social trends. People are always at the centre of such considerations. Just as the 1886 Benz Patent Motor Car and its successors revolutionised personal mobility and, as a consequence, society as a whole, the first self-driving cars will also bring about major changes.
“Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society. The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space,” explains Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Expressive forerunner of a mobility revolution
With the huge amount of space in its lounge-like interior, the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion takes the concepts of comfort and luxury to a new level. Every facet of the vehicle reflects perfectly the Mercedes way of interpreting the terms “modern luxury”, emotion and intelligence. This innovative four-seater is a forerunner of a mobility revolution, and this is immediately apparent from its futuristic appearance.
It is obvious that the F 015 represents the vision of a brand new vehicle concept just from its unusual proportions (length/width/height: 5220/2018/1524 millimetres), its seamless, monolithic exterior and its large LED light modules at the front and rear. A range of different lighting functions can be provided through these LED fields. At the same time, the vehicle communicates and interacts with the outside world by means of the LED fields. These LED fields show for example, if the F 015 is driving autonomously (blue) or is controlled manually (white).
The low-slung front end, smooth and streamlined roof line, flat front windscreen and road-hugging rear end give the F 015 Luxury in Motion an extended and decidedly dynamic silhouette. The F 015 Luxury in Motion’s unusually large wheelbase of 3610 millimetres in combination with its short overhangs clearly show that the design focus was on providing the maximum possible space for the passengers.
A lounge-like interior with an atmosphere of well-being
In the interior of the F 015 Luxury in Motion the designers have created a lounge-like space with a feel-good ambience characterised by elegance, quality and lightness. Sensual, flowing transitions and warm, organic materials such as open-pore walnut wood shaped into a three-dimensional veneer, and extremely soft ice white nappa leather contrast with clearly-defined metal and glass surfaces with a cool and technical feel.
The pivotal feature of the innovative interior concept is the variable seating system, with four rotating lounge chairs that allow a face-to-face seat configuration. In order to make getting in and out of the car easier, the electrically powered seats also swing outwards by 30 degrees as soon as the doors are opened. If necessary, the driver and front-seat passenger can also turn their eyes and attention towards the front – a prerequisite for manual driving. To this end the steering wheel extends automatically from the dashboard.
The leather-covered cushions of the lounge chairs are set in curved mounts of highly-polished aluminium. Each seating mount has a contrasting light band of blue LED lights and can also be manually swivelled.
One key aspect of the research vehicle is the continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and the outside world. This is facilitated by six display screens harmoniously integrated into the instrument panel and the rear and side panels, which turn the interior of the F 015 Luxury in Motion into a digital arena. Passengers can interact intuitively with the connected vehicle through gestures, eye-tracking or by touching the high-resolution screens. Sensors recognise the passengers’ hands and offer them user interfaces within convenient reach that present appropriate operating options for each particular situation. Particle streams on the displays visualise the vehicle’s movement.
Revolutionary vehicle structure
The high-strength body of the F 015 Luxury in Motion ensures optimum safety and supreme comfort for its passengers. At the same time, the bodyshell’s structure provides the ideal basis for the door concept that makes getting in and out especially easy, and for the communication-oriented seating featuring four lounge chairs in a face-to-face arrangement.
New materials and structures were used to develop the highly efficient “Smart Body Structure (SBS)” of the F 015. By cleverly combining carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), aluminium and high-strength steels in a way that matches the varying requirements exactly, the lightweight engineering experts were able to make the bodyshell 40 percent lighter compared with today’s production vehicles.
Another key element of the body design concept is the innovative saloon-door-style door system featuring rear-hinged rear doors. The front and rear doors can be opened and closed independently of one another. With an opening angle of 90 degrees for all doors, the spacious interior can be easily and comfortably accessed on both sides. B-pillars were not needed. A very sturdy interconnected system with mechanical locking elements ensures exemplary safety standards. These elements securely interlock the front and rear doors when they are closed at the same time as fixing them firmly to the roof frame and side skirts. The resulting composite load path allows an extremely high amount of energy to be absorbed in the event of frontal or side impact, with minimal intrusion into the passenger compartment.
The doors themselves have a crucial role to play in the vehicle’s passive safety concept. The crash-responsive beltlines underneath the side windows are vital here. The PRE-SAFE® Structure, previously unveiled on the ESF 2009 Experimental Safety Vehicle and now further enhanced, offers maximum safety while taking up minimum space: in a side-on collision, these bodywork elements “inflate” in an instant, just like an airbag, allowing them to absorb as much impact energy as possible.
In addition, the bodyshell of the F 015 Luxury in Motion was designed to allow the impact-protected integration of an electric drive system with fuel cell. This is based on the pioneering F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID system seen in the F 125! research vehicle from 2011, and combines on-board generation of electricity with an exceptionally powerful and compact high-voltage battery. The pressure tank made from CFRP is designed to store the hydrogen.
The vision: greater quality of life for all city dwellers
As a foundation for creating the F 015 Luxury in Motion, experts from all areas of Mercedes-Benz developed a future scenario entitled “City of the Future 2030+”, which considered many aspects of mobile living.
The greater the advance of urbanisation, the greater is the desire of the individual to be able to retreat to a private sphere. Autonomous driving will become a given. As drivers are relieved of work and stress in situations in which driving is not enjoyable, the time gained while in their car takes on a whole new quality. Time and space will become the luxury of the future.
New technologies and forms of communication open up numerous new possibilities for interaction, both between the vehicle and its passengers and between the vehicle and other road users.
Autonomous cars also open up new possibilities for urban infrastructure design. Following the example of today’s low-emission zones in city centres, special “safety zones” that are only accessible to autonomous vehicles could be created. Urban space would be regained by autonomous vehicles parking themselves on the periphery.
In the shared space of the future, humans and machines share the roads. The “car-friendly city” is transformed increasingly into the “people-friendly city” without any loss of individual freedom. The divide between residential, recreational and traffic areas therefore melts away. The result is superior quality of life for all urban dwellers.
The road to autonomous driving
Even now, vehicles from Mercedes-Benz are capable of detecting many different hazardous situations out on the road and reacting as the situation demands – by means of autonomous braking, for instance. And from the C-Class through to the S-Class, there are already Mercedes-Benz models driving semi-autonomously on public roads today, equipped with features such as DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and the Stop&Go Pilot semi-autonomous traffic jam vehicle following function. Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC allows automated parking with active steering and brake control in both parallel and end-on spaces.
In August 2013, Mercedes-Benz demonstrated to great effect that autonomous driving is possible now. The close-to-production Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE completed the approximately 100-kilometre journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim fully autonomously, following the route Bertha Benz took in 1888 on the first ever long-distance drive by car.
Mercedes-Benz is setting the pace of development in the area of trucks, too – as the innovator and launcher of intelligent assistance systems. With its Future Truck 2025, the brand presented the world’s first truck to feature autonomous driving at the IAA Commercial Vehicles in September 2014. In July 2014, this one-off vehicle, based on the Mercedes-Benz Actros 1845, drove at speeds of up to 80 km/h in realistic traffic situations on a section of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg.
As a global company, Mercedes-Benz has its sights set on autonomous driving worldwide. In order to factor in the differences in traffic and infrastructure in other markets, the experts also carry out testing in the USA, for example. In mid-September 2014, Mercedes-Benz became one of the first automotive manufacturers to be issued with an official licence by the US state of California for testing self-driving vehicles on public roads there. In addition the company makes use of the USA’s largest test facility, the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS).
The Mercedes-Benz management team on the F 015 Luxury in Motion
“The car is becoming a mobile living space”
“Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society. The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.” Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars
“Autonomous driving is one of the greatest innovations since the invention of the motor car. Drivers are relieved of work and stress in situations in which driving is not enjoyable, and the time gained while in their car takes on a whole new quality.” Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development
“Visionary concepts as the F 015 are vital for fueling the social discourse on mobility and the design of urban habitats. An essential part of our culture of innovation is to make humans, with their needs and desires, the central focus of our considerations and developments.” Prof Dr Herbert Kohler, Head of Corporate Research & Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer for Daimler AG
“With the F 015 Luxury in Motion we wanted to design a luxurious vehicle with a lounge-like ambience in the interior, which combines sensuality with purity in a very special way and appeals equally to the intellect and to the emotions, thereby exerting a natural appeal. In addition, its exterior had to signal its visionary and pioneering character at first glance.” Gorden Wagener, Vice President Design Daimler AG
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
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