“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.” Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars
“Autonomous driving is one of the greatest innovations since the invention of the motorcar. Drivers are relieved of work and stress in situations in which driving is not enjoyable, and the time gained while in their car takes on a whole new quality.” Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development
“Visionary concepts as the F 015 are vital for fueling the social discourse on mobility and the design of urban habitats. An essential part of our culture of innovation is to make humans, with their needs and desires, the central focus of our considerations and developments.” Prof. Dr. Herbert Kohler, Head of Corporate Research & Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer for Daimler AG
“With the F 015 Luxury in Motion we wanted to design a luxurious vehicle with a lounge-like ambience in the interior, which combines sensuality with purity in a very special way and appeals equally to the intellect and to the emotions, thereby exerting a natural appeal. In addition, its exterior had to signal its visionary and pioneering character at first glance.” Gorden Wagener, Vice President Design Daimler AG
“City of the Future 2030+” vision
Shared space in tomorrow’s world
- F 015 Luxury in Motion in the city traffic of the future
- Mercedes-Benz provides technically feasible and socially desirable solutions to the challenges of mobility
In order to provide a foundation for the new autonomous F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle, an interdisciplinary team of experts from Mercedes-Benz has devised a future scenario that incorporates many different aspects of day-to-day mobility. Above and beyond its mobility function, this scenario perceives the automobile as a private retreat that additionally offers an important added value for society at large.
“Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society,” emphasises Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.”
In the same way the 1886 Benz Patent Motor Car and its successors revolutionized personal mobility and, as a consequence, society as a whole, the first self-driving cars will also bring about major changes. Visions are vital for fueling the social discourse on future mobility and the design of urban habitats, as is seeing things from an all-encompassing perspective.
Not just crystal ball gazing
The “City of the Future 2030+” vision: urbanization has continued to advance, and the little urban space there is today is scarcer than ever. In an urban environment where space is at a premium and everything happens at a hectic pace, people have a growing desire for privacy and a place to retreat to. Autonomous driving is taken for granted – it is accepted by society and the technology is perfectly reliable. As the autonomous car takes over from the driver in situations where driving isn’t much fun, such as slow-moving traffic, it gives real added quality to time spent out on the road. The passengers in self-driving cars use their newly gained free time while traveling for relaxing or working as they please.
New technologies and forms of communication open up a whole host of new possibilities for interaction, both between the vehicle and its passengers and between the vehicle and other road users. The relationship between human and car is configured in such a way that the autonomous car assumes those tasks the human does not wish to carry out or cannot carry out, such as maintaining a permanent 360-degree all-round view. The human, on the other hand, decides how fast the car should move or which route is more scenic. The result is a new form of ‘teamwork’ between vehicle and driver that will make people’s lives easier.
New scope for designing the urban infrastructure
Autonomous cars also open up new possibilities for urban infrastructure design. The streetscape is set to change. Following the example of today’s low-emission zones in city centers, special “safety zones” that are only accessible to autonomous vehicles could be created. The removal of surplus streets and road signs could furthermore free up valuable space in the densely populated megacities. Urban space would also be regained by autonomous vehicles parking themselves on the periphery. This alone could eliminate around a third of the city traffic produced today by vehicles searching for a parking spot.
Extensive connectivity and communication would allow traffic composed of autonomous vehicles to flow more smoothly and take up fewer lanes. Traffic would become more free-flowing again as a result of vehicles moving continuously. Overall, personal mobility would be more comfortable, more stress-free and safer.
Shared space in tomorrow’s world
In the shared space of the future, humans and machines share the roads. The “car-friendly city” is transformed increasingly into the “people-friendly city” without any loss of individual freedom and the possibility to use the car. Main access roads in the cities that were previously busy with traffic become attractive places for living, shopping and strolling again. The divide between residential, recreational and traffic areas therefore melts away. The result is superior quality of life for all urban dwellers. The technology will also offer older people and people with disabilities who are not able to drive themselves the opportunity to enjoy personal mobility. Beyond the high-density urban areas with “safety zones”, there will be mixed traffic where self-driving vehicles use the roads together with conventionally driven cars. The extensive sensor systems and communication facilities will yield substantial benefits for all road users.
Mercedes-Benz experts engaged in a dialogue on the future of mobility
Mercedes-Benz regularly invites interested parties to take part in a dialogue on the future of mobility. For example, the Future Talk introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 2013 established a new dialogue format and asked the question “How utopian is the future?” In dialogue with the avant-garde in different disciplines, Mercedes-Benz experts shared their visions of shaping a desirable mobile future. The focus of the Mercedes-Benz Future Talk “Robotics” in July 2014 was the interaction between man and machine.
Interview with Thomas Weber and Herbert Kohle
“Autonomous driving is one of the greatest innovations since the invention of the automobile”
- Vision 2030+: autonomous driving becomes part of day-to-day mobility
- New driving culture allowing good use to be made of time spent in the car
- More than eye contact: trust between human and machine
Since the early 1970s, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled more than a dozen visionary research vehicles. Numerous technological features have already found their way into series production. With the new F 015 Luxury in Motion, Mercedes-Benz is once again underlining the pioneering role it plays in the development of visionary automotive concepts. The focus this time has been clearly placed on autonomous driving.
Progressing from the self-propelled (“automotive”) to the self-reliant (“autonomous”) car takes Mercedes-Benz research and development far beyond the purely technical implementation of automated driving. The company’s experts also have to anticipate different outlooks and social trends. Humans, with their needs and desires, are always at the heart of their considerations, though.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, and Prof. Dr. Herbert Kohler, Head of Group Research & Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer for Daimler AG, explain the company’s vision of autonomous driving as well as further steps along the road to revolutionizing mobility.
For the first time, the F 015 Luxury in Motion explores the possibilities offered by autonomous driving in depth. What significance do you see the self-driving car as having?
Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber: Autonomous driving is one of the greatest innovations since the invention of the automobile. Drivers are relieved of work and stress in situations in which driving is not enjoyable, and the time gained while in their car takes on a whole new quality: the freedom to do other things while driving instead of steering, accelerating and braking.
Prof. Dr. Herbert Kohler: That’s exactly how I see it – in a world where space is at a premium and everything happens at a hectic pace, people have a growing desire for privacy and individuality. So the car becomes a place to retreat to. Autonomous driving offers drivers the freedom of being able to use the time spent in this retreat as they wish.
You already demonstrated that autonomous driving is technically possible today in complex, realistic traffic situations, both in the city and when traveling cross-country, in summer 2013 with the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE. What is the purpose of the F 015 Luxury in Motion?
Weber: We see ourselves as pioneers of autonomous driving and are consequently pushing ahead with its development consequently. This means we are very mindful of everything that accompanies this development – including how autonomous driving revolutionizes the vehicle interior, for example. The F 015 makes this aspect even more appealing, as well as making it more comprehensible and tangible for people.
Kohler: Visionary concepts as the F 015 are vital for fueling the social discourse on mobility and the design of urban habitats. An essential part of our culture of innovation is to make humans, with their needs and desires, the central focus of our considerations and developments. Needless to say, we use the in-house expertise of our global R&D network for this. However, we also consult avant-gardists and experts from a whole range of different fields. With the Mercedes-Benz Future Talk, for instance, we inaugurated a series of dialogues in 2013 that are a tremendous source of inspiration for us.
What specific ideas from future scenarios were incorporated into the design of the F 015?
Kohler: Our future scenario looks ahead to the years 2030+. Urbanization will continue to advance – this is a clearly foreseeable trend worldwide. The little space there is in our cities today will become increasingly scarce. One quite important thing to note in this regard: autonomous driving will be accepted by society as part of day-to-day mobility. This will entail both technical and social changes.
Weber: And motoring itself will also change. The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion demonstrates this to full effect. This self-driving luxury sedan offers up to four passengers remarkably generous amounts of room. The lounge-style interior is designed as a digital space offering total connectivity. The occupants can use the time spent aboard the vehicle for relaxing, communicating or working efficiently. This brings a real boost in terms of quality of life.
The automobile as a private retreat in the midst of bustling traffic?
Kohler: Precisely. We see that as being the true luxury of the future. However, we also envisage the automobile giving something back to society and offering added value for the world at large. The intelligent vehicle can warn other road users of potential hazards, for example, or provide early information on certain traffic situations, thereby having a positive impact on traffic conditions. Communication and interaction are key to generating this added value.
A car that can communicate – it all sounds like a science fiction film. How does it work in reality?
Weber: It’s already reality today, using Live Traffic Information, for instance, or the automatic emergency call. And actually, it’s not really new at all: even when the turn signals are switched on, the driver, or rather the car, is communicating with its surroundings. The F 015 is capable of far more, though. It has large communication displays at the front and rear with LED panels. By changing the color of the lights, the F 015 indicates, for example, what driving mode it is currently in: blue stands for autonomous and white for manual. If the F 015 detects a pedestrian at the roadside, undulating light signals appear in the LED grille to show the pedestrian that the vehicle has seen them. This has the effect of building trust between human and machine, as the traditional eye contact with the driver will no longer exist as we know it today.
Kohler: Communication is the key. Should a pedestrian wish to cross the road, for instance, the F 015 halts and scans its surroundings to check whether it is safe to do so. If it is, the car uses a high-precision laser system to project a virtual crosswalk onto the road surface and additionally lets the pedestrian know it is clear to cross with an audible “Please go ahead” prompt.
Where does the car obtain the necessary information from?
Weber: The F 015 is equipped with an extensive sensor system that allows it to permanently monitor the entire area surrounding it. Nothing escapes the attention of the stereo cameras, radar and other sensors. Neither do they lose concentration or start to tire. The vehicle’s complete connectivity furthermore means it is being constantly fed with up-to-the-minute information via the internet – including information on things that are taking place beyond the detection range of its own sensors. All of this data is amalgamated, evaluated and interpreted appropriately. We call this intelligent sensor fusion.
And in what language do human and machine communicate with one another?
Kohler: Interaction in the vehicle interior is intuitive and takes the form of natural gestures, eye-tracking or touch control. We are also working hard on the development of a universal and perfectly clear form of communication between human and machine outside the vehicle too. As we see it, the human always remains in charge in all situations.
The complete connectivity of the automobile raises questions about data privacy and data security. What does Mercedes-Benz do to ensure that vehicle data is secure? How would you reassure potential sceptics?
Kohler: We follow a cloud-based approach. In combination with the Daimler Vehicle Backend, a specially secured server, this guarantees a secure and encrypted exchange of data at any time. In the interest of our customers, data privacy and therefore transparency are also very important to us besides data security. The customers must be aware what data is being collected when and for what purpose, and can decide for themselves what data they wish to release. There are strict rules and regulations for accessing data, and independent audits are conducted to make sure they are complied with.
Weber: When developing the fully connected car, we paid careful attention to the issue of data privacy right from the start. The car of the future will turn increasingly into a digital companion, which at the same time means it must keep data safe as well as be perfectly safe to operate out on the road. This careful and secure handling of data is a vital factor for the general acceptance of the new technologies.
Your last autonomous driving projects – S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE and Future Truck 2025 – were both presented in Germany. But surely you want autonomous vehicles to be used worldwide?
Weber: Yes, and that is precisely why we naturally test worldwide to allow us to factor in the varying traffic and infrastructure conditions. In mid-September 2014, Mercedes-Benz became one of the first automotive manufacturers to be issued with an official license by the US state of California for testing self-driving vehicles on public roads there too. In addition to this, we also make use of the USA’s largest test facility, the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS), for further testing of this future technology. This abandoned military site with its city-like road network extending over an area of 8.5 square kilometers provides a realistic traffic environment.
How do things stand in general with the legal requirements for autonomous driving on public roads?
Kohler: They currently differ from country to country, and even from state to state in some cases, especially when you look at the USA. Things are changing though: last spring, a United Nations expert committee got to work on an amendment to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, thereby creating the basis for legalizing autonomous driving. In future, the corresponding systems should be permitted provided they can be deactivated or overridden by the driver at any time. We are now calling for swift implementation of this amendment to the law and of the appropriate regulations at the national level.
What are the next steps on the road to autonomous driving?
Weber: Autonomous driving will not suddenly happen overnight; rather it will be a gradual development that takes place step by step. I am absolutely sure that we will be able to offer our customers features such as fully automatic parking and automatic driving on the highway before the end of this decade.
Kohler: And don’t forget: from the C- and E-Class through to the S-Class, our models already make life easier for the driver today with various semi-autonomous functions. These include DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and the Stop&Go Pilot: this allows the car to automatically keep up with the vehicle in front in traffic tie-ups as well as assist with steering too. Active Parking Assist, meanwhile, selects a suitable parking space and takes care of the steering. The driver only needs to accelerate and brake.
And what about the pleasure of driving?
Weber: That’s simple, it will be greater than ever. You can drive yourself when you want to instead of when you have to. Anyone who wishes will be able to keep their hands on the steering wheel and still press the accelerator. Driving pleasure cannot be automated. But another driving culture can evolve alongside it that offers a whole new degree of freedom. In the long run, we will complete the majority of everyday journeys in autonomous mode – comfortably, safely and with the opportunity to put the valuable time spent traveling to efficient use in all sorts of different ways.
Will the car actually still exist in 20, 30 or 40 years’ time?
Kohler: I am sure of it. The automobile remains the epitome of freedom of personal mobility, because it is simply unsurpassed for comfort and privacy. You can also see the increasing level of car ownership in countries such as India or China, where the economy and wealth are booming. There is very high demand for personal mobility there too.
Weber: In fact, it’s the new technologies that will help to ensure motoring does not lose any of its appeal in the future. Personal mobility and modern urban planning go hand in hand. Just imagine: vehicles automatically search for parking spaces on the periphery of cities instead of increasing traffic volumes and the amount of space required in city centers due to vehicles parking.
Kohler: Certain zones in city centers could furthermore be reserved exclusively for autonomous vehicles. That would make it possible to reduce the number of lanes in those zones and also largely do away with road signs, because they would basically be redundant. This would in turn create more room and living space for people.
Weber: It really does open up many new and interesting possibilities in terms of urban infrastructure and, of course, for the cities too, which will be able to put themselves in a good position through smart, anticipatory planning. To put it in a nutshell: we are absolutely convinced of the tremendous potential of autonomous driving and see it as holding a highly promising future for the automobile.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber (60) has been Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG since 2003 and, since May 2004, has been responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. Following a technical apprenticeship at Daimler, he studied mechanical engineering. He completed his doctorate at Stuttgart University in 1987 and joined the then Daimler-Benz AG. In 1994 he became project manager for planning and production of the new generation of V-engines for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars at the Untertürkheim plant and took over as head of the new engine plant in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt a short time later. He was appointed Center Director in 1998 and was responsible for the entire Mercedes-Benz engine production at the Stuttgart site. He became manager of the Rastatt plant in 1999. In 2002 he was given the additional role of spokesperson for A-Class management. In January 2003, he assumed responsibility for corporate research and technology on the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management. He has furthermore been responsible for development at Mercedes-Benz Cars since May 2004. Today, Prof. Dr. Weber is in charge of the merged portfolio of “Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development” on the Board of Management of Daimler AG.
Prof. Dr. Herbert Kohler (62) joined what at the time was Daimler-Benz AG in 1976 and initially worked in the production plant planning division. He completed his doctorate at Stuttgart University in 1982. It was under his leadership that the center for “Environment, Technology and Traffic” was established in 1992. He switched to the Mercedes-Benz Development division in 1993, taking over as head of strategic product planning, a role which he held until the end of 1999. In 1998 he was made an Honorary Professor at Stuttgart University. Following various posts in passenger car product management/sales and marketing, Prof. Dr. Kohler was appointed Director of Vehicle Body and Drive Systems Research in October 2000. From August 2006 until March 2009, he headed up the newly created Group Research & Advance Development unit for Vehicle Body and Drive Systems at Daimler AG. From April 2009 until April 2012, he was head of the newly founded “E-Drive and Future Mobility” directorate within Research & Advance Development, which is responsible, among other things, for the development of battery-electric and fuel-cell drive systems. Prof. Dr. Kohler has been head of the newly created Research and Advance Development Directorate for the Daimler Group since May 2012. Since March 2002, he has additionally held the position of Chief Environmental Officer for Daimler AG.
Expressive forerunner of a mobility revolution
- Autonomous driving opens up new freedoms in design
- Monolithic exterior with a high-tech feel
- Flowing transitions characterize the lounge-like interior
The task of the designers of the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion was to come up with a completely new concept and design for a luxury sedan: because autonomous driving will create a lot of freedoms of design that can be utilized systematically. The car becomes a precious, private retreat, particularly in urban traffic.
Thus the visionary research vehicle Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion was born, a vehicle which raises comfort and luxury to a new level by offering a maximum of space and a lounge character on the inside. Every facet of the F 015 Luxury in Motion is the utmost reflection of the Mercedes way of interpreting the terms “modern luxury”, emotion and intelligence. This innovative four-seater is a forerunner of a mobility revolution, and this is immediately apparent from its futuristic appearance. Sensuality and purity, the core elements of the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy, combine to create a unique, progressive aesthetic appeal.
It is immediately apparent that the F 015 represents the vision of a brand new vehicle concept just from its unusual proportions, with a length of 5220 millimeters, width of 2018 millimeters and height of 1524 millimeters, from its seamless, monolithic exterior, and from its large LED light modules at the front and rear. A range of different lighting functions can be provided through these extensive LED fields. At the same time, the vehicle communicates and interacts with the outside world by means of these LED fields. The display signals to pedestrians that the F 015 has “seen” them. The number plate is replaced by a QR code, making information on the vehicle available to the outside world. This, along with the striking narrow luminescent band on the rear end, makes the vehicle into a “communications center” on wheels. The monolithic impression is emphasized by the absence of exterior mirrors and the flush-fitting side windows, which have an almost mirror-like appearance thanks to their finely-patterned surface and which blend almost imperceptibly into the flanks of the vehicle body, finished in alubeam.
Dynamic: an extended, flowing silhouette and pronounced body shape
The low-slung front end, smooth and streamlined roof line, flat front windshield and road-hugging rear end give the F 015 Luxury in Motion an extended and decidedly dynamic silhouette. The vehicle body has a pronounced, attractive shape. The generously-sized areas of outer skin fit snugly to the body. The greenhouse is tapered sharply towards the rear, resulting in muscular shoulders which lend an eye-catching contour to the flanks. Together with the powerful-looking side skirt, this gives the sides of the vehicle additional visual structure.
The extremely large 26-inch wheels appear to push down the side skirts, which in turn emphasizes the unusually long wheelbase. The alloy wheels are split into five equally-sized, cross-drilled areas of gleaming aluminum.
Expansive: long wheelbase and “saloon doors” that open wide
The unusually long wheelbase of the F 015 Luxury in Motion, at 3610 millimeters, is longer by some 245 millimeters than the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class (3365 millimeters). Combined with the short overhangs, it is immediately apparent that the design focus was on providing the maximum possible space for the passengers.
The F 015 Luxury in Motion does not have any B-pillars. This fact, together with the wide-opening “saloon doors” that open out the other way to conventional doors, makes getting into and out of the vehicle interior particularly convenient and comfortable. The doors open to a full 90 degrees. This allows a clear view of the generously dimensioned and intelligently laid out interior and ensures problem-free entry. The side impact protection features have been cleverly integrated into the door system.
Open space: a luxury lounge providing the highest levels of comfort
In the interior of the F 015 Luxury in Motion the designers have created a lounge-like space with a feel-good ambience characterized by elegance, quality and lightness.
Sensual, flowing transitions and warm, organic materials such as open-pore walnut wood, which has been shaped to a three-dimensional veneer, and extremely soft ice-white nappa leather contrast with clearly-defined metal and glass surfaces with a cool and technical feel. The transitions between organic, metal and synthetic materials have been designed using matrix graphics; and the flowing transitions deliver a new, unparalleled feeling of bounteous space. The light-colored fine wood used for the floor, for example, flows almost imperceptibly into the cool Plexiglas of the side panels thanks to their unusual surface matrix. The transition between the vehicle floor and the door panels also echoes the outer body shape in a characterful way.
Variable and comfortable: Lounge-like seating system with a vis-à-vis configuration
The pivotal feature of the innovative interior concept is the variable seating system, with four rotating lounge chairs that allow a face-to-face seat configuration. This enables the front passengers to turn around and talk directly to the other passengers while on the move – or to focus their attention towards the front as necessary for manual driving. For this, the white leather steering wheel automatically slides out of the instrument panel – also clad in white leather – and offers the driver a choice of driving options. To make getting in and out of the vehicle really comfortable, the electrically-powered seats swivel 30 degrees towards the doors as these are opened.
The cushions of the lounge chairs are upholstered in extremely soft ice-white nappa leather and set in curved mounts of highly-polished aluminum. Each seating mount has a contrasting light band of blue LED lights and can also be manually swiveled. Harmonious touches are provided by the leather head restraints with the Mercedes star strikingly embossed in them, as well as by the seat belts, which are in the same color as the seat cushions.
Communicative and interactive: the interior as a digital living space
One core theme of the innovative interior concept is a continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and the outside world. Six displays are installed to this end all around, tastefully mounted in the instrument panel and the rear and side walls, making the interior of the F 015 Luxury in Motion 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. Sensors recognize the passengers’ hands and offer them user interfaces within convenient reach that present the suitable operating options for the particular situation. Particle streams on the displays – with brilliant white background graphics – visualize the vehicle’s movement and symbolize its intelligence. In addition, individual displays for each seat provide an innovative way for passengers to take in information.
Interview with Vice President Design Gorden Wagener
“The highest expression of emotion and intelligence”
Mr. Wagener, when you look back at the conceptual phase – what were the key parameters for the F 015 Luxury in Motion?
Taking as our premise the concept of autonomous driving, we came up with the vision of a car which in the guise of a large, very progressive and highly aesthetic sedan makes the hallmark Mercedes concept of “modern luxury” tangible in all its facets. We wanted to design a luxurious vehicle with a lounge-like ambience in the interior, which combines sensuality with purity in a very special way and appeals equally to the intellect and to the emotions and thus exerts a natural appeal. In addition, its exterior had to signal its visionary and pioneering character at first glance.
New design freedoms – how did the design team use them?
The F 015 Luxury in Motion demonstrates an extremely progressive design idiom with its elongated mono volume. The total integration of the ‘Space Flow’ profile is revolutionary. A taut line runs from the grille over the roof into the tail end, and thus integrates the classic components hood, cabin and trunk into one volume. In the interior we had the freedom to create generous space with a luxurious, modern lounge character, which thanks to displays integrated all around makes a continuous exchange of information between the vehicle, the passengers and the outside world possible.
What are the core design elements that make the new research vehicle from Mercedes-Benz unmistakable?
With our design idiom of sensual purity we have created unique progressive aesthetics. In addition to the complete integration of the ‘Space Flow’ profile, it is above all the unusual proportions that make the F 015 Luxury in Motion immediately unmistakable. The front-end design also leaves not the shadow of a doubt that this is an entirely new kind of vehicle. All lighting functions are combined within a dominant Mercedes radiator grille contour. This gives us the opportunity to widen the grille as a trademark across the entire front, and thus to design it prominently as a stand-alone styling element. What’s more: it makes it usable as a digital display at the same time.
What functions did you have in mind for the LED communications field?
It has two primary functions. Firstly, the three-dimensional LED fields provide different lighting functions; and secondly, the intelligent vehicle uses them to communicate and interact with the outside world. For example, they show whether the vehicle is currently in blue – autonomous – driving mode or white – manual – driving mode; or when a pedestrian has been registered on the edge of the road. The large LED module at the rear offers the same communication capability for traffic following the vehicle.
On the outside, the F 015 Luxury in Motion comes across as a monolithic, sculpture-like object. How did the design team give it this character?
We were able to create the monolithic appearance of the exterior – as if hewn from a single piece – in particular through doing without conventional windshield and window design. The flush-fitting side windows have an almost mirror-like appearance thanks to their extremely finely-patterned surface. As they are close in color to the cool, technical appearance of the alubeam paint finish of the vehicle body, the transition from the windows to the bodywork is almost imperceptible. In addition, there are neither exterior mirrors nor visible A, B or C-pillars to interfere with the overall impression of a sensual, object-like sculpture. Likewise, the door system is barely perceptible thanks to its fine lines. The vehicle epitomizes a total reduction in an especially emotional way.
How does the design idiom of the exterior differ from that of the interior, and where do they converge?
The core concept in our design philosophy – namely the fusing of sensuality with purity – can be clearly seen in both the exterior and the interior. Where the exterior was concerned, we wanted primarily to create a futuristic appearance that unambiguously and unmistakably represented the visionary character of the F 015 Luxury in Motion. This is done with flowing lines that stand in contrast to the monolithic, sculptured vehicle body. In the interior we focused on comfort, an extraordinary sense of space, and the luxurious lounge character. The displays allowing nonstop, all-round information and interaction link the analog and digital worlds together. The lounge chairs, through the contrasting white soft leather and highly-polished aluminum materials used, convey this fusion of sensuality with purity in a particularly striking way. And the innovative door system, with its wide-opening doors that open out the other way to conventional doors, provides the link between exterior and interior in a very concrete way.
What is your own personal favorite detail?
The vehicle has so many highlights that it is a difficult question to answer. I believe that in the F 015 Luxury in Motion we have created the perfect symbiosis of the virtual and the real world, and have packed the most intelligent solution in a highly aesthetic design. With this vehicle we have defined the luxury of the future.
Gorden Wagener (46) has been at the helm of the globally operating design unit of Daimler AG since mid-2008. Under his leadership a new design strategy for Mercedes-Benz was developed in 2009, a strategy that is being continuously advanced. Wagener first studied Industrial Design at the University of Essen before going on to specialize in Transportation Design at the Royal College of Art in London. Wagener joined Daimler in 1997, was responsible for a wide variety of functions, and became head of the Mercedes-Benz US design studio in Los Angeles, California in 2006.