Car exhibits shift to tech-assisted driving future

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published February 2, 2015

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Detroit’s Cobo Center in January during the North American International Auto Show to get a driver’s seat perspective of upcoming cars and concept vehicles.

But the event also showed the public some developing options that either assist the driver via computer technology or even drive the vehicle themselves.

One of the highlights of this year’s Mercedes-Benz exhibit was its F 015 Luxury in Motion concept vehicle, which was described as a self-driving luxury sedan.

Hartmut Sinkwitz, head of interior design at Mercedes-Benz, said the concept vehicle is proof that Mercedes has the technology to produce autonomous driving.

He said he believed that autonomous driving will eventually be “possible more or less everywhere in the world,” but he said the option may not realistically arrive until another 15 or 20 years. Many things need to be clarified legally, he explained.

“No one in the world has created a holistic approach for a fully autonomous driving car that’s much more than a car,” he said. “It’s more like a driving robot.”

Sinkwitz said the car communicates with pedestrians and can also indicate to traffic behind the car that pedestrians are walking in front. One necessary step of implementing this technology is getting people to rely on and trust in it, he said. 

When no occupant is driving, the vehicle’s interior lets the front two seats turn 180 degrees so that the passengers can see each other. The interior’s 360-degree environment has interactive screens that inform occupants about vehicle speed and other factors, he explained.

Sinkwitz said the concept vehicle comes with a manual option that would let the driver operate the vehicle.
“We’ve got this long tradition of being the inventor of the car, that we don’t want to take away our passengers’ ability to enjoy safe driving by themselves,” he said.

Over at the Denso Corp. exhibit, company spokeswoman Bridgette LaRose said her company is moving forward with its V2X technology, which it described during the 2014 auto show as well. Back then, it was uncertain whether the U.S. government would let the technology be implemented, but LaRose said the government had announced in August 2014 that it plans on moving forward.

“So of course, we’re moving forward with our technology as well,” she said.

LaRose said V2X technology is a form of driver assistance that lets vehicles communicate with other vehicles, infrastructure, personal devices and pedestrians.

“So if a pedestrian has a smartphone that’s connected, then when you’re driving, you can get an alert that a pedestrian is coming into the street. Then you can avoid hitting that pedestrian,” she said.

LaRose said Denso is talking with all its major customers on incorporating the V2X technology.

Learn more about Denso Corp. by visiting www.globaldenso.com. Read up on Mercedes-Benz online by visiting www.mbusa.com. The North American International Auto Show’s website is located at www.naias.com.