Mercedes-Benz sees driverless future as a matter of comfort

A future of self-driving cars is one car lovers will have to get used to. Whether we like it or not, they are coming, with opportunities for great advancements in safety and efficiency – and, in the case of Mercedes-Benz – luxury.

The German giant presents the autonomous F 015 as a private retreat, with “a lounge character” that the company claims is “a forerunner of a mobility revolution”. Four rotating lounge seats allow passengers to sit face-to-face.

Mercedes-Benz believes people will use autonomous cars “in situations where driving isn’t much fun, such as slow-moving traffic”, and will therefore appreciate the interior as “a digital living space – a perfect symbiosis of the virtual and the real world. Passengers are able to interact intuitively with the connected vehicle by means of gestures or by touching the high-resolution screens”.

Large LED displays at the front and rear, plus a laser projection system directed toward the front, allow the F 015 Luxury to communicate with its surroundings visually, while the acoustic communication repertoire includes both sounds and specific spoken instructions.

Meanwhile at Tesla, your car will come to you

The latest software released for the Tesla Model S — version 7.1 — features several major changes to the company’s Autopilot system, including the beta version of the ‘summon’ feature, which allows the cars to enter or exit parking spots or garages without the driver in the car.

“You can summon the car from your key fob or phone through a pull down menu, it will open the garage door, back out of the garage, close the garage door and come to you,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said.

The summon feature is still in experimental beta version, but Mr Musk expects the system to develop quickly.

“In two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country,” he said. “If your car is in New York and you are in Los Angeles, it will find its way to you.”

Mr Musk predicts the car will even be able to charge itself along the way. He said autonomous driving will be technologically ready within the next 24 to 36 months.

The current version of the summon feature requires the driver to be no further than 33 feet from the car as well as “continually monitor and maintain control of the car” when using the feature. In addition, Tesla requires that the driver only use it on private property with flat topography.

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