The automobile industry currently faces challenges from tech-giant Google to re-conceive transportation. At the yearly Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, companies from around the world converge to showcase their latest products and design ideas. While wearable technology has grabbed more than its fair share of headlines, a German automaker is aiming to change how people travel.
As one of the oldest and most respected car manufacturers, Mercedes Benz has a history of grappling with aesthetic and technological concerns. Mercedes Benz has built a brand known for luxury and pinnacle performance.
The car giant unveiled its latest autonomous concept vehicle at the 2015 CES in the hope it can put forth an alternative to the minimalist Google car. Reports from the floor at CES indicate that Mercedes' vision is expansive. Designs showed a self-driving vehicle that is both wider and more versatile than sedans currently on the market.
With a 12-foot wheelbase, the interior is more like a cozy living room than a conveyance. The front driver and passenger seats resemble trendy lounge chairs, and they can swivel to face the rear passengers when in self-driving mode. The steering wheel and vehicle controls then recede into a compartment, hidden from view and safely stowed.
Vehicle passengers will use six gesture-responsive touchscreens. Mercedes says that it seeks to transform the role of the car in society from a simple mode of transportation to a mobile living room.
The car will use laser projection technology to navigate and ensure safety even when humans are in control. Mercedes claims that with a hybrid-electric motor, the autonomous vehicle will get over 700 miles per gallon fuel efficiency.
Self-driving cars are quietly entering the mainstream, and carmakers are already daring one another to create the first commercially viable design. 2015 could be the year of the first retail autonomous vehicle.
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Self-driving cars promise safety gains, but sometimes safety tech can go awry. Please see our previous post: The Exploding Air Bag Problem