Cooley On Cars
On the road: Mercedes F 015Brian Cooley rides in the Mercedes F 015 self-driving concept vehicle and explains how we'll live with cars in the future.
Let's face it, all that wood, leather and $6000 audio upgrades are basically a way to make your time in prison more pleasant. You're still suffering under the tyranny of driving. You have to sit there and babysit a machine. the wheel and the pedals over a repeated route of driving that is not very interesting day to day. This is what Mercedes is solving for, not self driving, that we've already figured out. This is more about what happens after you achieve self driving. How do you get real luxury out of that? And the answer is twofold. You get real space. Space has always equaled luxury. And you get your time back, the greatest luxury of all. Because mobility is, to be honest, it's mostly stressful. To give the people the, the opportunity to, to relax, to have a private place while moving. They are the people who are gonna be more friendly. Very simple. Better mood. And the changes in pursuit of that mission are clear even before you enter the F 015. Notice the shape of the vehicle is very different than let's say a current s-class. This is not about having several volumes. Boxes as they call it. The three box design of most sedans today. But instead having what's called a monovolume. Pushing the wheels way out to the ends and creating big spacious doors that open up to almost an entire open side of the car. Here's one of the very first sketches they did of it, and notice how similar it looks to a very old diagram above it. There is an ancient carriage from, what, a couple hundred years ago. And notice how it's got some similarities to it. Get rid of incursions from wheel wells, drive shaft tunnels, nearby firewalls, and protrusions where gas tanks or batteries live. And let's give the passengers the prime space all to themselves. Like a birds nest. It's like a, like a cocoon actually. That creates this atmosphere of, of privacy that, that we consider is, is the next level of modern luxury. The self driving technology enabled us to come up with a radical design concept. So this is a, a proof that technology and design stimulate each other to have such great results that we have now in the car. Now here's an example of what it's like to sit in the Mercedes F015. As you can see now the seats are facing each other, this is what they call lounge mode. As opposed to everyone looking forward and some of them looking at someone else's head and that kind of communicates that everyone's view is about the drive and where they're going. But again, we're trying to break that tyranny. The lower half of each door in this concept. Below the glass is a large screen that can do a lot of different modes. One of the most important is what they call the Guided Path mode. And you have several menus under that, one of which shows your point on the route and when you're going to arrive. There's also a Social screen to show you who's around you and who is at your destination. There's a Places area, which is kind of a rich POI presentation that is, again, geographically sensitive. Great when you're visiting a new city, right? Now, this is interesting, Beamcam. This will allow you, with another driver's permission, to actually log in to the surround cameras on their F 015 and watch their drive. And this is some of the most interesting psychology of all. Here's the drive mode. the menu. But I have real questions about what the nature of a car's drive mode means when you're not driving. When you want connected to shifter, wheel, and pedals. What do sport and dynamic modes deliver anymore? Aren't sporty dynamics from a car that's driving itself actually disruptive and distracting from the peaceful environment you're trying to establish in the cabin in the first place? The face and rump of the F015 are part of a new relationship with others. Along with sensors and lighting, they also include an array of LED indicators that can express what the car knows. Sees and expects from others around it. The cities will become denser and denser. There will be come competition about public space. So we es, will be impossible that we maintain in the cities lanes for everybody, ya, free lane for everybody. A separation so on that will become. Chairs, so the machine, the mobile robot so to say, the car, has to give signs what it's doing, so we have to build up the relationship between the people and the machinery. Well, here we are. This is the FO15. Let's go for a ride and see what it's like under its own control and power. Now the autonomous driving in the Mercedes F015 is not a new concept, what they're doing here, along with having the car figure out how to drive itself, is also to allow it to work with new infrastructure to create dynamic shared faces. They're talking about smart pylons that could inexpensively and easily be adopted. in your front yard to make sure no car ever backs over the curb into your lawn where you're having a picnic with your kids. Powertrain tech isn't the main point of this car, but for what it's worth, it's envisioned as an electric electic hybrid. That means, its a hydrogen fuel cell car that generates most electricity on demand from stored hydrogen. But it also has a battery storage system charged by that same fuel cell power train or by being plugged in. It all goes out to twin electric motors, one on each rear wheel, with a total predicted range of 680 miles. Miles, 560 of those from the hydrogen fuel cell and 125 from the battery-stored charge. Even more than what the F015 tells us about itself is what it tells us about the future of automotive design. Reorienting interiors from the driving task, taking back time from the tyranny of the commute, redefining the concept of performance, and rethinking how personal cars. Utilize road space. Please go ahead. More cars driven CNET-style standing by now at CNETOnCars.com. Click On the Road. [MUSIC]