Autonomous cars from Mercedes-Benz and Audi revealed at CES 2015


Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion concept

Mercedes F015 Concept

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Concept

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its F 015 Luxury in Motion concept at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The car is the German manufacturer’s take on the autonomous car of the future. The design is sleek and futuristic with a fair bit of lighting on the outside which gives out some semblance to the vehicles seen in the sci-fi movie ‘Tron’.

Mercedes F015 Concept rear

Mercedes F 015 Concept rear

The body is claimed to weight 40 per cent lighter than today’s lightweight cars, primarily due to the use of materials like aluminium, high-strength steel and CFRP (Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic) in its construction. The cabin boasts of a six-touchscreen setup which can detect gestures, swipes and eye tracks. The passengers can interact with the vehicle through hand movements or through the touchscreen interface within their reach. Four seats based on a pivot can turn so that all the passengers can face each other while autonomous driving or can be set to the conventional positions in case of manual driving – during which, the steering wheel also comes out of the dashboard.

Mercedes F015 Concept cabin

The barn style doors open to reveal huge cabin space, more than the long wheelbase S-Class

Power is given by a hybrid-electric fuel cell system capable of generating electricity on-board, which can then be stored in high-voltage batteries. The LED light fields on the exterior front and back of the car indicate to the world in which mode the car is currently running. White light indicates manual drive and the blue colour means that driving is done by the computer.

Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management, Daimler AG and Head, Mercedes-Benz Cars aptly sums up the F 015 thus,”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.”

Audi Autonomous Prologue Concept

Audi Prologue Concept 1

Audi Autonomous Prologue Concept

With Mercedes unveiling an autonomous car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), can Audi be far behind? No, surely not. Audi has unveiled a self-driving version of the Prologue Concept car which was originally shown to the public at the Los Angeles Motor Show in 2014. At that time it was viewed as a precursor to the company’s future design language and widely regarded as the harbinger of a flagship A9 model. This time around it was brought in to showcase Audi’s “Piloted Driving” technology.

Audi Prologue Concept int 1

Audi Autonomous Prologue Concept cabin

This concept is loaded with radar, ultrasound sensors, laser scanners and even 3D video cameras which feed all the data to a “central driver assistance controller”. This control unit then moderates the various control mechanisms like steering wheel, brakes and transmissions accordingly.

Power is relatively more compared to the Mercedes-Benz F 015, not that this is not a hybrid, it is.But instead of combining two electric motors like the Benz it combines a big, turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine with an electric motor. The result is an impressive 667 bhp and phenomenal 950Nm of torque.

This concept will not be produced, but Audi did drive in (literally) an Audi A7 prototype. The A7 imbued with “piloted driving” technology, made an entry to the show after having covered a 550 mile journey with almost all of it done autonomously, from California to Las Vegas.

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