Automotive

Mercedes' self-driving cars will be a place to relax

Mercedes' self-driving cars wi...
According to Mercedes, self-driving cars may include features such as seats that can be turned to face one another
According to Mercedes, self-driving cars may include features such as seats that can be turned to face one another
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According to Mercedes, self-driving cars may include features such as seats that can be turned to face one another
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According to Mercedes, self-driving cars may include features such as seats that can be turned to face one another
Mercedes says autonomous cars may allow us to rearrange the car's interior and to spend our time on activities other than driving
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Mercedes says autonomous cars may allow us to rearrange the car's interior and to spend our time on activities other than driving
Networked sensor systems being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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Networked sensor systems being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
Obstacle detection and reaction being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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Obstacle detection and reaction being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
Obstacle detection and reaction being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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Obstacle detection and reaction being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
Autonomous corner being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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Autonomous corner being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
Autonomous turning at a red light being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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Autonomous turning at a red light being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
Autonomous lane merging being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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Autonomous lane merging being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
Autonomous lane merging being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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Autonomous lane merging being tested by the S 500 Intelligent Drive
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It wasn't so long ago that self-driving cars were seen as the stuff of some distant sci-fi future. All of a sudden, that future is upon us, but we don't yet know what these cars will look like. New concepts from Mercedes suggest they'll be a place for relaxing or working, but not driving.

Perhaps the most blue-sky concept we've seen of what driverless cars could be is artist Dominic Wilcox's self-driving stained-glass car with a bed inside. The Mercedes concepts are a little more similar to those Rinspeed showed us last year. All three concepts, however, agree that self-driving vehicles give us the potential to radically rethink the car's layout.

"We are convinced that autonomous driving will be a central factor on the way to comfortable, accident-free driving," says Dr. Herbert Kohler, Daimler's head of corporate research and sustainability. "Autonomous driving relieves pressure and stress in driving situations usually regarded as tedious, for example in tailbacks, in inner-city areas or on long journeys. At the same time, it opens up new ways in which people can make the best use of their time on the road."

Mercedes says autonomous cars may allow us to rearrange the car's interior and to spend our time on activities other than driving
Mercedes says autonomous cars may allow us to rearrange the car's interior and to spend our time on activities other than driving

Like the Rinspeed concepts, Mercedes has taken the potential for self-driving vehicles to its natural conclusion. There is no longer a need for a driver at the wheel, and so the car interior of the future becomes more like a lounge area or meeting space. The front seats of the car can be turned around and passengers can spend their time relaxing or working. Mercedes sees potential for turning the car into a "private area of retreat in increasingly dense urban traffic."

Amongst the other features in Mercedes' future car concept are screens providing information about the journey and the car, and the ability for passengers to interact with the vehicle via touchscreens or gestures. Sensors might track track eye, hand and finger movements with which passengers could control functions, for example.

Mercedes also points to a number of embryonic technologies that it is testing in its S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle as ones that may play a key role in its autonomous cars of the future. Autonomous cornering, navigation of roundabouts, and merging are all in the process of being developed. Likewise, ancillary technologies such as sensor systems, traffic light detection and obstacle reaction are also being developed.

Source: Mercedes

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9 comments
Daniel Bruce
Never buy self controlling technology without manual override/manual mode.
David Antoni
And people laughed at me when I was a kid and told them we are getting this things in their lifetime. HA!
Mel Tisdale
So, it is early morning and you are sitting in your autonomous Mercedes, which is doing what it is programmed to consider a sensible 70 mph or so down some major road while you blithely sit in the back catching up on your emails.. Unbeknown to you, and more importantly unbeknown to your Mercedes, the road is flooded to a depth of a few inches, due to a burst water main or a recent sudden deluge, say.
At the inquest, it is decided that Mercedes are to blame for producing and marketing a road vehicle that is unsafe and concludes that all such road vehicles should be banned until proven safe in all possible eventualities, think ice, think patchy fog, or just plain THINK!
That autonomous vehicles will find their way down the tubes, which is where they belong, is one thing. The real worry is that the very good autonomous driving technology that would also provide excellent driver assistance will likely also find is way down the tubes, which is very definitely where it does not belong.
Google have a lot to answer for. Roads are dangerous places and are not a playground for geeks to play with, no matter how rich they are.
habakak
@ Mel
And you think that humans are perfect drivers? Self-driving cars is the next step to making the roads safer. 40,000 people die on US roads every year. Only technology to enable humans to be better drivers, or to take the human out of the equation, will reduce this horrible death toll. Every day on average 109 people are being killed by HUMAN drivers. You don't seem to care about that, but let technology kill ONE human and you throw a hissy fit?
Besides, the scenario you created is something a self-driving car will be able to negotiate much better than a human. Given that scenario at night, no human will see it, and the car will still be able to detect it. Also, given that tons of cars will drive on this route, the information will be passed along so that possibly only the FIRST car experiencing it (in the unlikely event of it not knowing about the obstacle) will not be aware of the impediment.
And the tech won't be flawless, especially not the first couple of versions. But even the first versions will do INFINITELY better than human drivers (think about that 109 people killed daily by HUMANS on US roads, not to calculate the number worldwide even, before you provide such weak criticism). Please have a little more compassion and do not jump to emotional conclusions about a superior technology. Humans are terrible at driving and ill-equipped to spot trouble and advanced issues.
StWils
Mel and others are right on this. Look at today's news as Takata corp evades explaining their crappy, dangerous, unstable airbags. Or, the 15 years it took the US govt to force FORD to acknowledge, grudgingly, that an integrated circuit sensing engine speed underneath the distributor was unreliable. Or, how GM managers refused an engineer's attempt to improve the weak ignition switches that have killed people and that GM is now replacing at a gigantic price. I do not like the idea of getting a vehicle and letting software take over. Blindly sailing along does not seem like an especially good idea. And Mel never even got around to mentioning deer, dogs, cats, pedestrians, etc strolling out onto the road as they are all wont to do occasionally.
lwesson
Here in Houston, considering the horrific traffic here, I am surprised that more people are not killed nationwide. I recall when there were metal dash boards, and no safety belts. Driving from Houston to Austin on old Highway 71, it was head on twisting two way traffic. Bars dotted the way to Austin, and some gruesome wrecks were seen. Death nearly got me one night on that road. Surely he is still looking for me.
No, humans seem to do a pretty good job considering. The roads are way safer. Lights are better. And the cars, far safer all the while speed limits have gone up. A major liberal paper in Austin screamed that raising the speed limit would cause massive blood drenched carnage. NO. It did cause various police agencies a head ache, in not being able to ticket as much. Out West, speeds zoom up to 80+ miles per hour. What fun! What Farfegnugen! ---> German for Driving Pleasure, and yet wherever there is pleasure, some control minded kill joy will jump in to end it (for your own good, always for your own good).
"Hal, take me to Houston." "No Dave, it is far too dangerous."
Suzanne Bradley
Whatever the naysayers may think, this technology will come, and one day everyone will have a driverless car, because that is all there will be available.
Phil Taylor
And who will be responsible when it crashes ?
Joseph Mertens
And who will protect you for being kidnapped or murdered by Hacking the navigation system and driving you to a location or off a cliff?
Why is the government going to ignore all that juicy data about your travel habits or exert the above mentioned travisties?