To drive or not to drive? The question Mercedes poses at CES 2015

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Autonomy is going to be the rage in 2015, late in 2014 we saw an Audi RS7 drive a blisteringly quick lap at Hockenheim Grand Prix track, we saw the Google autonomous vehicle taking to the streets of California and we have also seen military vehicles driven without any human interference. Now in 2015, Mercedes have shown off their new project; the F 015 Luxury in Motion autonomous vehicle. Launched today at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, the car, as we know it is going to change.

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The F 015 Luxury in Motion’s (LM) body is built with carbon fibre reinforced plastic, aluminium and high strength steel allowing the F 015 LM to be up to 40% lighter than most cars of its size. Ever so slightly shorter than a long wheel base S-Class it manages to increase the ‘living space’ in the car by an additional 445mm due to it being wider and taller than the current S-Class.

No matter how luxurious a car may be, some may say its defining moment is when a celebrity gets out gracefully. Mercedes may or may not have had that in mind when designing the rear doors but the twin rear hinged doors open 90 degrees whilst the seats swivel 30 degrees allowing a graceful exit no matter how flamboyant or constraining the attire may be.

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To maximise the ‘living space’ in the F 015, B-pillars were removed and each door can be opened independently of one another. Mercedes have designed a new impact protection for the passengers if there is a side on collision. A belt line under the side windows inflate much like an airbag allowing them to absorb as much of the impact as possible.

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According to Mercedes, the interior is like no other. More of a living space than a seat to your next destination. Crafted out of open grain walnut, glass, ice white nappa leather and aluminium. The four luxurious lounge chairs can be positioned opposite each other, perfect for a meeting or else in tandem as is per usual in a normal car. Passengers are connected through a choice of six screens, which are controlled via eye tracking, gesture recognition and touch.

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The F 015 is capable of being driven manually or left to its own devices in fully autonomous mode. In each mode, other drivers and pedestrians will be alerted by large LED modules at the front and back of the vehicle in either white for manual or blue for autonomous mode. When thee driver chooses to drive the car manually, both the driver and passenger seats swivel whilst a steering wheel emerges from the dashboard. The F 015 may be being powered by Hydrogen fuel cells, which were pioneered in the F-Cell Plug-in hybrid seen on the F 125! research vehicle back in 2011.

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