The car as a medium.
Pizza and progress.
It’s night-time in Palo Alto, California. A warm breeze blows through the streets, where there is never a hint of Winter. It seems the streets have been deserted. Only on Hansen Way are lights still on: behind the window of a flat-looking building complex, designers, Human Machine Interface specialists and software developers sit amongst half-full coffee cups and empty pizza boxes, animatedly exchanging ideas and compete to produce their sketches. By the end of the night, a prototype will have been drawn up. Maybe an innovative App or maybe a ground-breaking interface. Or maybe something that a mere mortal couldn’t envisage ever existing. And that is exactly what is sought at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center. It isn’t just by chance that – by American standards at least – it is located in the immediate vicinity of Facebook, Google & Co.
Like nowhere else in the world, here, it is well known that: only those who question the basics, uncover pioneering answers.
Trial and error: loved and lived.
The Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center is incorporated into Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. 12 employees in the Design Lab devote themselves daily to the research and development of highly innovative, holistic vehicle interfaces. There couldn’t be a more ideal location for close cooperation with experts from different fields: here in Palo Alto, resourceful teams benefit not only from the proximity of the nearby, world-class universities like Stanford or Berkeley, but also from the active exchange of ideas taking place between numerous high-tech companies, which serve as a constant source of inspiration.
In addition to studying market and trend research, the internationally established team also knows the value of the trial and error culture which has always been loved and lived in Silicon Valley.
Expansion of the mind in modern times: Augmented reality.
The visions of young talents thrive so well in this diverse environment that sooner or later they will be brought to life. There isn’t a strict timetable between how long should pass between the planting of the idea, the conception and the end product. Sometimes it only takes minutes to have the first prototype, but often it takes months of tinkering with an idea. What matters is the outcome. One of the outcomes delivered through this process is the DriveStyle App, which integrates the world of smartphones into the vehicle. Then came DICE, the Dynamic Intuitive Control Experience. The vision: the driver becomes a passenger and the car simply drives itself. Instead of a conventional dashboard, DICE provides an extensive head-up display.
Using gesture control and augmented reality, this allows the outside world to be integrated into the driving experience. DICE currently only exists as a prototype. Although series-production implementation of the system seems to only be a matter of time.
The sky is the limit for visions.
“As our projects often lie far in the future and are of such an innovative nature, nothing comparable already exists and we are thus the ones who predict developments and trends. Ideally, we lead the way as visionaries”, explains Vera Schmidt, Head of the Digital Car department. Working on DICE has therefore given her a great deal of satisfaction. She sees a quite realistic prospect for the future in an automotive robot which will carry out a range of tasks from washing and parking the car right up as far as driving autonomously to the workshop. She is particularly enthusiastic about the idea of helping develop moving spaces which are open to the skies and nature. But this should come as no surprise: after all, the home of a free-spirit is vast. Or the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Centers around the world.