Mercedes unveil autonomous electric smart car
The Frankfurt Motor Show has seen Mercedes unveil one of its stranger looking vehicles.
At a distance, the vehicle resembles the traditional smart cars seen pootling round our towns and cities over the past decade. Closer inspection however reveals that this smart car is a good deal smarter than most. The new vehicle is the German car maker’s vision for the autonomous, electric city car of the future.
From 2018, Smart will only be selling electric cars, but Mercedes want to go a step further and test autonomous features as part of the change.
The first major difference becomes obvious upon a look inside the cabin, the Smart Vision EQ has no steering wheel or pedals to speak of. At the front of the vehicle, where the bumper would normally be located is a screen that can be used to display graphics or messages.
The interior – a dome like pod – has a floating seat and a bank of touchscreen monitors. Lack of a steering wheel means there’s plenty of passenger legroom.
It has been designed to function as a ride-sharing vehicle where it would make-up part of a fleet, rather than be privately owned.
The vehicle is not scheduled to hit the roads until 2030 when the eccentric design may not seem so radical.
Mercedes say the car will have advanced AI that will be able to detect busy areas, such as football stadia and concert venues so it can anticipate demand and park itself nearby.
An interesting but slightly weird feature is the ability to choose what sort of passengers you ride-share with by matching common interests. Weirder still is that the car will have an option where it suggests conversation topics to help break the ice.
Providing the power will be a 30kWh battery, similar to that used by cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe.
Smart CEO Annette Winkler said: “The smart vision EQ ForTwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric.
“In the future one and two seat cars will be important for future urban driving. People think that when cars are autonomous the size of the car doesn’t matter, we think the opposite.”
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