2015 CES, and the Connectivity Path to Autonomous Cars
The vehicle is very important, because—unlike some other smaller autonomous concepts—it brings the notion of luxury to a transportation appliance. This, in turn, will create huge opportunities for aftermarket personalization.
After all, if the vehicle is going to free up the driver with the ability to enjoy entertainment, it might as well be a top-notch home theater experience. Indeed, there are those who might think autonomous may lead to the end of in-vehicle entertainment—you could just bring your iPad along for the ride and use headphones. H Their cute, Koala-esque Google car has a similar-size footprint as a Scion iQ with a relatively Spartan interior—it does not even have steering wheel or pedal controls. It makes sense as an Uber-based transportation personal-subway pod. But that is not a true luxury experience—and Mercedes is going after luxury.
Zetsche noted, "People will want to possess luxury self-driving cars as their private and individual retreat. Giving you more time and space is priceless. And the choice will be there to drive for yourself [or let the car take over]. The user is the decision-maker. That is true independence, and true luxury."
Everything about the F015 points to the direction we are heading—except for the controversial exterior styling. However, the front seats' ability to pivot rearward so people can face each other, or perhaps enjoy multimedia, ensures that vehicle entertainment customizers will have an abundance of opportunities in the future.
It features 25 global experiments to analyze and eventually change how the world looks at mobility. Reining in from crazier ideas, CEO Mark Fields noted, "We see a world where vehicles talk to one another, drivers and vehicles communicate with the city infrastructure to relieve congestion, and people routinely share vehicles or multiple forms of transportation for their daily commute. The experiments we're undertaking today will lead to an all-new model of transportation and mobility within the next 10 years and beyond."
The 25 experiments address four global megatrends: explosive population growth in developing countries, an expanding middle class, air quality and public health concerns, and changing customer attitudes and priorities.
An example of one cool experiment that is happening at Georgia Tech will be a precursor to full-autonomous. Using golf carts around campus, a person sitting in a remote location can access real-time video over today's LTE cellular network and then drive the car from a remote station. The outcome could be a more affordable and effective way to share or park vehicles using a remote "valet." Imagine being able to drive your parents' car to your house for dinner—from a driving simulator in the basement!
"Our priority is not in making marketing claims or being in a race for the first autonomous car on the road," Fields said. "Our priority is making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses, and truly enhancing customers' lives." Getting back to today, Ford released SYNC 3 at the show, which is supposed to have more conversational speech recognition technology, a more smartphone-like touch screen, and easier-to-read graphics. These were typical complaints of some consumers who used last generation's MyFordTouch/MyLincolnTouch systems.