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Mercedes Unveils New Robo Car Concept

Mercedes Concept Car

Before letting any press within a few miles of the F 015, Mercedes stressed that it’s only a prototype, without the fit, finish and finesse you might expect from a Mercedes. Smart move, because this thing runs like a 70’s-era Jaguar with dodgy electrics. The touch screens are unresponsive. The buttons that open the door don’t always work. It can’t handle the heat of a pleasant Bay Area day, in part because much of the car is made of plastic that changes shape in hot weather. The trunk is stuffed with computers that don’t like the heat either, so when the car wasn’t running, Mercedes pumped in cool air with a hose. After the car stopped with our photographer onboard, the autonomous system wouldn’t turn back on.

None of this matters, because Mercedes has 15 years to get that sorted. What’s important here is not the tech, but the car wrapped around it. The exterior design emerged from informal competitions among Mercedes designers, and the F 015 as it is today was born from a concept its designer called the LED Zeppelin, because it would use light emitting diodes and is shaped a bit like a blimp (proving some Germans have a sense of humor, or at least appreciate a good pun). It’s not supposed to look like a bar of soap wrapped in aluminum foil, even if it does. It is stunning, if only because it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.

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