MYSTERIOUSLY SHIMMERING SPACESHIP
Peter Lehmann is the master of the F 015 Luxury in Motion future model at Mercedes. The vehicle is 5.22 metres long, weighs almost three tonnes and is packed with everything the people in charge at Daimler envision for the car of beyond tomorrow. Dark-haired Lehmann pushes a key on his smartphone and the mysteriously shimmering spaceship silently rolls out of the multi-storey car park. The wide-opening “saloon doors” provide a view of the gigantic interior with four individual seats and trendy lounge atmosphere. Warm wood tones, leather that is soft to the touch and lots of that personal space that is lacking in today’s cars. “The wheelbase is about one metre longer than on the Maybach”, says Lehmann and settles in the swivelling driver’s seat while the doors close without a sound. Even at second glance the interior still has the vibe of a future laboratory – bright, visionary and simply chic. It is a place to feel good in, but the predominance of the large displays and the narrow windows’ lack of importance take some getting used to at first. Gigantic flat screens in the door panels come to life and the spaceship starts to move. Slowly at first, then more swiftly before Lehmann starts the autonomous driving programme and turns around to face his fellow passengers. He unerringly operates the keys on the flat screen in his door panel, while the F 015 rolls towards the skyline of San Francisco at a speed of 60 km/h.
THE LAND OF BOUNDLESS INNOVATION
In Europe, the wheels once more turn more slowly than in the USA. Although numerous test vehicles of the automobile manufacturers have also been travelling autonomously on Germany’s motorways for quite some time; the legal framework has so far made it difficult to transfer major advances to the production models. The US is pursuing the dream of autonomous driving more rigorously. It therefore comes as no surprise that some states in the land that equates mobility with freedom take a more accommodating approach. The network of American highways and interstates, at one point conceived as a copy of the German motorway network, has a significantly lighter density than in countries such as Germany, Austria or the Netherlands. The distances are greater, the speeds lower and the innovative drive sometimes boundless. Several US states – California, Nevada, Michigan and Florida – quickly agreed to create the legal framework for autonomous driving. However, large states such as Oregon, Arizona, Colorado or Texas are holding up the red card for now. In many other states, work is currently under way to permit autonomous driving in accordance with the appropriate guidelines.