Mercedes' Futuristic View: Autonomy Meets Connectivity

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Mercedes-Benz calls its new concept car the F 015 Luxury in Motion.

But the all-electric, fully autonomous-drive vehicle is more than just a car; it's also a rolling lounge that's wired to the max.

The luxury automaker unveiled the prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday in Las Vegas, offering a peek into how connected cars may be in the future.

Among the F 015's features are:

  • Inside door panels with web-connected touch screens that can pull in exterior views from 360-degree view cameras;
  • Front seats that swivel to face backward, even when the car is driving, and
  • The ability to track the car's location while it parks itself, via a smartphone app.

"I always have access to the car. I can see where it is on the road, in the traffic, in the area," said Mercedes' Vera Schmidt, who worked on the F 015 design.

"I always have access to the car. I can see where it is on the road, in the traffic, in the area."

Although it's what's on the inside that makes the car stand out, the exterior also has a futuristic feel. It features a long wheelbase, which allows for a larger cabin; 26-inch wheels; and coated windows that cut down on glare.

Despite the concept car's allure, Mercedes representatives acknowledged that many of its features are likely years away from appearing in for-sale models. Some, such as front seats that face the back while the car is motion, are unlikely to ever be approved due to safety concerns during front-end collisions.

What's more likely to take off, however, are the connected car features, so long as automakers and suppliers can assure drivers they will work consistently.

"Consumers want to know these features will work as promised," said Efraim Levy, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ. "When that happens, these advancements have the potential to attract customers."

The Consumer Electronics Show has evolved over the years to feature the latest technologies from high-profile automakers. Also at the show this year, Audi held test drives for its autonomous A7 test car, while BMW will showcase the i3, which can be parked by speaking into a smart watch.