Interview with manager of Research Cars at Mercedes-Benz, Klaus Millerferli

Mercedes presents 'the future of mobility' with launch of F 015 at GITEX

German car manufacturing colossus, Mercedes-Benz, has provided car enthusiasts in the Middle East with a glimpse into the 'future' with the regional debut and premier of its futuristic F 015 model at GITEX Technology Week in Dubai.

Mercedes has declared that the F 015 autonomous research vehicle represents the 'future of mobility.' The F 015, which was on display at the Etisalat Stand at GITEX, certainly captured the attention of attendees at the technology exhibition who were intrigued by what the 'future of mobility' is going to look like.

Arab Wheels was in attendance at GITEX Technology Week and managed to secure an exclusive interview with the manager of Research Cars at Mercedes-Benz, Klaus Millerferli, in an effort to find out more about this autonomous vehicle that represents the future of mobility - and when, realistically, we can expect to see the commercial deployment of the F 015.

The Mercedes-Benz Research manager disclosed that he and his engineering team had been working on the F 015 project for three years, and declared that the car represented the vision of self-driving technology at the German car manufacturer.

Millerferli said, "We've been working on the F 015 research project for around three years. Firstly, we initially focused on the creative development of the car - before then switching our concentration on the packaging and design processes involved in the manufacturing. Before we finally embarked on the engineering aspect of the car. This is the future. This is the vision of autonomous driving for Mercedes-Benz - we have a lot of technologies integrated in this car and it will work. This isn't a fake, it's a real working car - it is a research car, but is full of revolutionary technology inside and is fully operable and can be driven."

When pressed on when he envisages the mass adoption of autonomous vehicles, the Mercedes Research manager said it was difficult to put an exact timeline on it, but stated that it will not apply to normal customers initially. He also stressed the importance of connectivity in order to enable autonomous driving on a mass level.

Millerfelli added, "Autonomous driving will come to market in the next four to five years, but initially it won't be for normal customers, it will be for special fleets in specific areas, because we require a 3-D scan of the area. It's very important to get the exact position of the car in order to get the information around the car - so vehicles will contain a lot of sensors for fully autonomously driven cars and one of the things we need is 'connectivity.' We need to be connected with other cars, and connected with the cloud to get real-time information in traffic, accidents and other issues that may arise, but connectivity is a crucial driver in making any of this possible."

The Mercedes-Benz F 015 transforms the vehicle from a mode of transport to a comfortable mobile living space - a lavish, intuitive and connected oasis. The vehicle uses sensor technology that continuously scans the vehicle's surroundings, ensuring seamless and continuous communication and interaction between the vehicle, its passengers and the outside world.

Head of Marketing and Communications at Mercedes-Benz Middle East, Lennart Mueller-Teut highlighted Mercedes' rich history in being a pioneer in developing automotive technologies - and outlined its ambition to be a leader in the development and deployment of autonomous technology.

He said, "The collaboration with Etisalat is the perfect platform for us to introduce our vision of future mobility to the region. Mercedes-Benz has been a pioneer of automotive technology for decades, and it is our mission to pave the way for the future of autonomous driving. The F 015 fundamentally reinterprets what a car is, completely changing the user experience for ultimate luxury in motion. Mercedes-Benz aims to fulfil its promise of autonomous driving by providing solutions to dynamically shape the future of mobility."

Millerferli said it was critical that regulatory obstacles are removed in relation to the testing of autonomous cars - and said it was imperative that governments adopt policies designed to accelerate the deployment of self-driving cars.

He said: "I think many governments are open-minded in relation to autonomous driving because 90 percent of accidents are caused by driver failure. Whether drivers are under the influence of alcohol or distracted by their smartphone, they're causing fatal accidents, these are the statistics and it is costing lives. So it's a serious issue, but we now have technology that has the power that can change lives, but more importantly it can save lives. We can make driving safer, so I think governments are definitely open to adopting this technology and helping accelerate the development of it. Regulatory rules that prevent the process will be very costly."

Mercedes-Benz plays a leading role in the mobility of the future through its CASE strategy - based on the four pillars of Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric drive. Mercedes-Benz is the only automotive brand investing in all three technologies - hybrid drive, electric motor and fuel cells - demonstrating its exceptional solutions for diverse needs.

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