If you thought smart cars were weird little things, well, they’re about to get weirder. Or cooler, depending on your point of view. But they’ll still be little things.
This concept from Mercedes-Benz (owner of smart and car sharing service car2go) is called the smart EQ fortwo. It’s been designed for a fully autonomous, shared, electric future of transportation. No steering wheel, no pedals, and a screen on the front that tells you which shared vehicle is the one you called.
Robots Made for Humans
It’s been designed to be comfy for the user, with wide entry portals that rotate out of the way and a slick sofa-like seat. It’s also designed to be friendly — the headlights can be configured to look more like eyes to better communicate with humans. Humans understand eyes even without actual eyes; think of how far into the film Wall-E you got before you realized there was no dialog. And the rear taillights can signal more than just stopping — they can also give traffic warnings to the cars behind them.
And don’t worry, millennials! Mercedes heard you like rose gold these days, so they’ve got some of that in the interior. Also, your car promises right now not to ever take you to Applebee’s.
Cars Talk to Cars, People Talk to People
The smart EQ fortwo is connected to other vehicles, but more importantly, a fleet of these little guys can act as a “swarm” in a city. Rather than finding a car on an app and hailing it from your phone, you’ll just tell the service (likely some kind of next-gen car2go) that you need a ride to, say, the Portland Timbers match. The swarm can send a nearby empty car to your location and take you there, no overly chatty driver necessary.
Unless you like the overly chatty. Fear not! The smart EQ fortwo concept also wants you to make friends (or make out. Whatever. But please don’t mess up the white seat). If you get into a fortwo all alone, the system can scan user profiles to find a second passenger going to your same destination or near enough. You like trout fishing? This guy likes trout fishing! You’re both going to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Talk about your cosplay on the way! Sure, there’s a lot of potential for creepiness here, but let’s pretend the internet isn’t full of terrible people for just one minute.
A Foundation for the Future
All of this does build on a years-long foundation of connected, shared, electric vehicles that Mercedes has been working on. Car2go has been around for more than a decade. It currently has 2.6 million users worldwide, and someone takes a trip in a car2go vehicle every 2.4 seconds. And as of 2018, all smart cars will be electric only — no more gasoline. Which makes sense; these cars are more fun to drive around town with a torque-y motor instead of a clunky engine.
If you want to see the smart EQ fortwo concept in person, it’ll debut at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt in September. If you can’t make it, don’t worry! Carsplaining will be there in September taking pictures and posting videos to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Find me! Follow me! Friend me!