Mercedes-Benz debuts its new driverless car at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Still only a concept, Hayley Platt looks at the benefits of driver-free cars.
Fans of the eighties US TV show Knight Rider will be familiar with the driverless car. Three decades on it's still a concept, but Mercedes-Benz is bringing it closer to reality. The F015 Luxury in Motion drove itself into this year's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, carrying the show's President Gary Shapiro. SOUNDBITE: Gary Shapiro, Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO, saying (English): "You know it's a very odd feeling to totally give up the wheel to a robot." The car is electrically powered. And monitors the road using stereo cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors. Inside its high-res touch screens control light, temperature and even email. You can host a video conference or watch a movie. And once activated gestures and eye tracking can be used to operate the internal systems. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, Mercedes-Benz parent company, believes it will change the way we think about cars. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. DIETER ZETSCHE, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT OF DAIMLER AG, HEAD OF MERCEDES-BENZ CARS, ON SEEING THE CONCEPT COME TO LIFE, SAYING: "30-years ago I was seeing these pictures and dreaming about these cars. Now to be part of the realization is fantastic. We have a responsibility because we are a company that invented the car. So we should be the one to reinvent the car and that is exactly what we are going to do." Mercedes isn't alone in designing a car that drives itself. It's German rival Audi has sent one on a 550-mile trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas. And Google's driverless vehicles have been undergoing tests since 2010. Analysts say it's no gimmick. A recent report by Morgan Stanley concluded driverless cars could boost the global economy by $5.6 trillion, due to increased productivity and fewer accidents (SOUNDBITE) (DR. DIETER ZETSCHE, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT OF DAIMLER AG, HEAD OF MERCEDES-BENZ CARS, SAYING "This car is not only able to determine when to cross the road, it actively tells you when it is safe to start walking across." Many cars already have basic autonomous functions, like parking sensors and cruise control. Some experts are predicting the ultimate driverless vehicle could be on sale before the end of the decade.