Blue Light/White Light

Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Engadget’s Nicole Lee got to spend some quality time riding in the Mercedes F 015 concept car:

The conceit behind the F 015 is this: What would a car look and feel like in a future where driving is no longer the sole purpose of having one? When you don’t need to keep your eyes on the road, what would you do differently? And when pedestrians can no longer make eye contact with drivers, how will they know when to cross the road? These questions are all central to the design and philosophy of the F 015, which is less about self-driving technology than it is a thought experiment on how autonomous driving will fit in our collective future.

Indeed, the demonstration vehicle in front of me isn’t even fully autonomous; it’s programmed only to go along a predetermined path on the Alameda runway. Still, the car isn’t without technological marvels. “You know KITT? With David Hasselhoff?” asks Klaus Millerferli, a researcher for Mercedes-Benz, a few minutes before our demonstration. “I’ll call it over like that.” Rather than using a Comlink watch to summon our ride, however, Millerferli takes out his iPhone and launches an app. He taps in the number of passengers — there are four of us — to tell the car how many doors to open, and then taps a button to beckon it over. As the car makes its way to us, Millerferli points out that the LEDs are blue, which indicates the car is in autonomous mode. If someone were behind the wheel manually driving the car, the light would be white.

Replace the three-pointed star with a Cadillac coat-of-arms, and you’d have Jerry Farnsworth’s car from Robert Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice.

Still, I’ll take the white light please.