When I lived in Indiana, I fell prey to the automotive lifestyle. Maybe it was the lack of sidewalks in the mid west, maybe it was my laziness, but I drove my car everywhere I needed to go. With my derriere regularly planted behind the wheel, I had an ample amount of time to muse about how one might redesign the experience: How might one redesign the driving experience in order to make it enjoyable?
Yes, as a product the car fulfills its basic function: Getting me from point A to point B. But what about the service it provides? As they say, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey?” Once a product has been designed to fulfill its function, the next step to set it apart from its competitors would be to design a uniquely positive experience around it.
Mercedes-Benz has done exactly that. They have taken a fully functional product (a car) and come up with a concept that caters to the holistic experience rather than the basic function. The Mercedes-Benz F-015 Luxury in Motion is a self-driving luxury pod that offers passengers a lounge-like private sphere to retreat to. The F-015 features wall-mounted display screens which are embedded with hand-recognition sensors to enable gesture control. The company said in a statement:
As drivers are relieved of work and stresses in situations in which driving is not enjoyable, the time gained while in their car takes on a whole new quality
– Mercedes-Benz statement
In our world today we are already moving towards this paradigm of comfort dependent on cognitive behavior. Our cell phones no longer have physical buttons on them but rather have touch screens. The Gaming industry is embracing gesture control rather than remote controls. Artificial Intelligence is moving in a whole new exciting direction. So what would this mean for the automotive industry? When you sit in a car, you have toggles, buttons, and various physical levers to operate a heavy piece of machinery. It is very mechanical and dare I say…moving towards archaic. it isn’t as comfortable and fluid to use as, say an iPad.
Mercedes-Benz has embraced the experience design process and envisioned a world in which driving is not about operating the mechanics of car in order to reach a destination . The experience would be focused solely on the journey, with the destination as an obvious certainty. Finally someone has taken the infamous quote to heart: It’s not about the destination, it is about the journey”. Granted, the car is just a concept at this stage and a lot of people would probably have a hard time feeling at ease in a self-driving car. But the concept is interesting in that it does not only focus on the latest in tech, but rather looks at what the context of use and addresses the holistic experience.
Cars will turn into mobile homes in the very best sense of the word… exclusive cocoons on wheels, enabling people to do exactly what they want or need to do.
– Dieter Zetsche, CEO, Mercedes-Benz
We do not know when such a car would become commercially available, but the world is not ready for it just yet. Personally, I have not built up that level of trust in machines that I would let them drive me around. That said, I am very much looking forward to the day when our cars are indeed Luxury in Motion and I hope it will be along the lines of the F-015.