Driven - - New Technology - Im­age © DAIM­LER

Af­ter years of jokes and ner­vous spec­u­la­tion about the fu­ture of driv­ing, a man­u­fac­turer has fi­nally un­veiled the first car to forgo ped­als and a steer­ing wheel. With a wink and a nod, Smart in­tro­duced its self-driv­ing minicar con­cept and with it, the brand’s vi­sion for the fu­ture of “ur­ban lux­ury”.

The 30-kilo­watt lithium-ion-pow­ered con­cept is fully au­ton­o­mous and picks up pas­sen­gers on de­mand, con­forms to Daim­ler’s creed for the fu­ture – that cars should be con­nected, au­ton­o­mous, shared, and elec­tric to re­duce traf­fic, emis­sions, and noise pol­lu­tion in crowded cities.

In the fu­ture, users will be able to or­der and op­er­ate the car – which will func­tion at Level 5 au­ton­omy – en­tirely from their smart­phone. The smart EQ fortwo will be able to pick up another pas­sen­ger on the way to split ex­penses, but will match riders based on mu­si­cal pref­er­ences, Face­book likes, and other pro­file in­for­ma­tion. When the sec­ond pas­sen­ger boards, the wrap­around dig­i­tal screen on the dash­board would show the pair’s shared in­ter­ests, such as con­certs they’ve at­tended or sports that they play. The car fits two peo­ple, but larger groups could or­der a sec­ond car to fol­low be­hind. The bench seat di­vides into a two-part bar­rier that strangers can erect to cre­ate a sense of pri­vacy.

When it’s not shut­tling pas­sen­gers around the city, the smart vi­sion EQ fortwo will be able to drive it­self to a sta­tion to recharge its bat­tery. It could also con­nect to and feed elec­tric­ity back into the to the power grid to serve as a “swarm bat­tery” or, ac­cord­ing to Daim­ler CEO Di­eter Zetsche, dis­play pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ments such as news, sports scores, weather fore­casts, or the time of day on the fortwo’s large side pan­els.

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