(CNN)-We're all used to seeing "concept cars" -- those bits of automotive frippery that manufacturers trot out at motor shows every few months. Generally, they're either design tinsel that will never see the light of day, or previews of cars that will soon appear in showrooms.
And then there's the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion.
Catchy name aside, this odd-looking creation has had such a varied life that its maker refuses to call it a "concept." It's a research project instead, hence the name (the 'F' is a German prefix denoting 'research vehicle' status).
The F 015 made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas more than two years ago. It's packed with advanced (or what was considered advanced in 2015) autonomous technology, and can, in theory, run for almost 900 kilometers on a mixture of pure electric power and a hydrogen fuel cell.
But while countless other vehicles are still trying to prove that cars can, literally, drive themselves, Merc's offering takes this for granted. Instead, this vehicle wants us to consider what we'll actually do while the car is driving us around.
The steering wheel slides into the dashboard to create more of a "lounge" space. The seating configuration allows four people to face each other if they want to talk. And when the onboard conversation dries up, a bewildering collection of screens -- one on the rear wall, and one on each of the doors -- offers plenty of opportunity to interact with various media.
The F 015 could have done all of this as a flash-in-the-pan show car -- seen at a couple of major events before vanishing without trace. But in fact it has been touring almost constantly since that Vegas debut.Read More...
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