Winner’s interview – Mercedes-Benz Research & Development

The Mercedes-Benz Research & Development team was recently awarded the Red Dot: Best of the Best at the awarding ceremony in Singapore for F 015 Luxury in Motion, an autonomous vehicle that can communicate with its surrounding. The Red Dot: Best of the Best is awarded for groundbreaking design and is the top prize in the Red Dot Award: Design Concept. This prize is reserved for the best works in a category. 

In addition to winning the Red Dot: Best of the Best for design concept in 2016, F 015 Luxury in Motion is also nominated for the Red Dot: Luminary. The Red Dot: Luminary is the highest achievement of the Red Dot Award: Design Concept.

A leading light to follow, this concept is selected among the 42 Red Dot: Best of the Best winners of 2016 and serves as an inspiration to aspire towards. Other nominees include a smart armchair by Aisin Seiki; an electronic paper toy by ENSCI – Les Ateliers; and a self-driving car by Google.

Anja Weinert, responsible for communications in the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development team shares with us more about the design concept and recent developments.

What affected the decisions to submit the F 015 Luxury in Motion to the Red Dot Award: Design Concept?

With the self-driving luxury sedan F 015 Luxury in Motion, Mercedes-Benz shows how the automobile is changing from a means of transportation to a private retreating space. The F015 offers maximum space in a lounge-like interior and elevates comfort and luxury to a new level. One key aspect is the continuous communication exchange between the research vehicle, its passengers, and the outside world. The F015 is absolutely unique and moreover a milestone within the automotive industry that makes it the best submission to the Red Dot Design Award.

Share with us your experience how has F 015 Luxury in Motion developed.

The first ideas for this concept originated in internal workshops that we conducted 4 or 5 years ago with participants from design, development and future research. We asked ourselves what would change, if a car does not need to be designed around the driving task anymore.

What are some of the major issues the users of F 015 Luxury in Motion have had?

Most passengers get rather irritated, when the car moves without someone sitting in the driver’s seat. However, the particular focus on new ways of using the interior space made the passengers feel comfortable inside very quickly. One central idea in the innovative interior concept is a continuous exchange of information with the outside world, which creates trust.

Are there any design solutions to safety issues?

Passive safety is playing an important role in automated vehicles as well. Even if autonomous vehicles avoid accidents, a non-autonomous vehicle can crash into an autonomous vehicle when both are on the road. For these occasions we still need passive safety measurements like safety belts as they are shown in the F 015.

Which group of people do you think will benefit the most from autonomous-driving cars?

At today’s level of automation, people who do a lot of driving probably feel the benefit the most. As automation increases more and more people will experience the benefits first hand until even those people, who could not drive themselves will be able to benefit from this type of mobility.

What particular challenges do you think designers have to face these days?

Currently we are noticing a paradigm shift in terms of automotive design which is dominated by three big topics the designers have to face: Digitisation, electric mobility and autonomous driving. Challenges are the extremely high omnipresent complexity as well as a continuous increasing information density. Design is able to give answers as well as to play a major role in shaping the future. Simultaneously, there is an increasing desire for emotive, authentic experiences, a paring-down to the essentials. Each Mercedes-Benz product embodies an overall experience of emotion as well as intelligence and the designers create highly complex technology reduced to the maximum and therefore extremely user friendly, while never losing the high approach in terms of  aesthetics and beauty.