Relationships redefined: Robots, A.I. and the empowered you

Let’s talk about the future. Will it be as exciting as we imagine? And what will cars be like? When you imagine the cars of the future, what do you see? How do they move? What are you doing? And what will our relationship with them be?

We think the cars of the future will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. They will be shaped by highly evolved artificial intelligence. Pretty much the smartest machines ever built.

Will cars still be called cars?

Somehow the word car seems a little old fashioned for something so futuristic. They will be super robots, basically. We don’t yet know what name history will settle on. So for today I’m going to call them robot cars.

As we know, robot cars will be fully autonomous. They will drive us wherever we wish to go, safely, comfortably, conveniently. So reliable they can even drive our children to the school gates, and pick them up at the end of the day. The robot car of the future will make life easier for everyone.

Where are you?

This is Machine Autonomy. And it’s possible that one day it could bring an end to the age of the driver. Announcing the age of the passenger. Relieved of the steering wheel our hands – and minds – will be free. Enabling us to sit back and enjoy the ride. We will be able to work on the way to work, have meetings, play games, catch up on social media. Sleep, even. Safe in the knowledge that we are in good hands.

I am the passenger and I ride

So we’ll all be full-time passengers. When you put it like that it doesn’t sound so new and exciting, does it? Being a passenger is something we can do today, if we go by taxi, train or plane for example.

Is that everything the future has to offer? We think you can be so much more than just a passenger. In a world where we don’t need to play an active role, sometimes we want to play an active role. Because it’s human nature to get involved. To have our say. To have influence. Because it makes us feel alive and connected to the world around us. Some of us don’t want to be passive, we want to participate.

How can we make this possible? What’s the evolutionary curve for drivers? What’s the active role for humans in the age of the robot car?

Shaper

We envision a new role that allows you to create, to train, to design, to collaborate, to program: to shape. We call this new active role: Shaper. The name doesn’t really matter right now. What’s important is the meaning. What does a Shaper shape?

A Shaper will be able to shape the artificial intelligence itself, the brain of the robot car. With access to the digital core that controls literally everything. The AI in your hands ready to get shaped in a safe and intuitive way (safety-relevant changes excluded, of course).

We’re convinced that in the future humans are still going to be creative, talented and most importantly – unique. This isn’t a uniform black box A.I. that rolls off the production line and that’s it. This is a machine that leaves the factory and then your story begins – together.

Let’s get personal

With an AI in the driver seat that is shaped by you, the robot car becomes a personal robot car. With an autonomous system, that is unique. Encouraging self-determination and freedom in the next chapter of the automobile. It has everything Machine Autonomy offers: The same comfort, safety and convenience. But instead of it being an experience made for you, it is an experience made with you.

By empowering you with new kinds of tools. Developed for digital machines allowing you to shape the AI – to become a Shaper. Intuitive Shaping will enable you to personalize the intelligence. By natural interaction and by new interfaces. You don’t need to be an expert or to know code. It will be playful, safe, effortless and fun. Remember, the computer started off as a tool for experts. But today everyone can use one. The new tools for intuitive shaping will have the Mercedes DNA in every detail and are developed carefully in accordance with our brand values: excellence, performance and safety.

Unique character

You will make it unique. You will be able to set the car’s skills, personality, driving style, motion and behavior. The robot car will come alive with you. You can choose how it expresses itself. Think of it like inventing a movie character. With its own characteristics and personality. Also the robot car will be able to express uniqueness – with advanced robotic features, body language and sentient gestures for example. The robot car, as futuristic as it is, will be also a little bit like what individual mobility has looked like in the past: when humans mainly traveled by horse.

The personal robot car will be the most comfortable, relaxing ride ever. But it will also be the most exciting robot on Earth. An inspiring robotic platform for your creativity. Allowing you to contribute your character to the streets of your neighborhood. As well as reflect the local character of your surroundings. Nurturing a stronger connection with your city and its people.

Get set … shape!

AI and robot technology are going to radically redefine our relationship with cars. But as we’ve seen, we don’t have to become passengers sitting in uniform cloned transportation. We’ve envisioned an alternative scenario with you in control.

So be ready to step up and play a crucial role. Because the future promises to be a more colourful, more interesting, more human place, with you shaping it. That’s why we believe the future belongs to humans. And why we are working on the mission to empower and inspire you to shape autonomous and artificially intelligent cars. Stay tuned.


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Kai Jardner works for the Daimler AG in Sindelfingen in the field of Society & Mobility PIONEERING. He is a speaker at the CES 2019 in Las Vegas and talks about the cars of the future.