Just as the smartphone revolutionised the way we communicate, the smallest model in the Mercedes-Benz range – the new A-Class – is set to change the way we interact with our vehicles.
At an immersive event held at the flagship Mercedes me store in Melbourne’s CBD this week, guests were offered a glimpse into an exciting future through the eyes of Mercedes-Benz in which cars will anticipate our needs and connect us to the greater world in surprising new ways, such as fully electric and emission-free cars as well as fully autonomous vehicles that are at an advanced stage of development. There was even a hint that one day soon we may all be able to step into a flying, driverless taxi – one that will never take the wrong turn or get caught up in a traffic jam, perfect for getting around the city!
Leading an entertaining discussion about this fascinating future was comedian and TV panellist Dave Thornton, who gently probed the technological experience of renowned coder Ally Watson, and the analytical mind of Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning swimmer Cameron McEvoy, who is also a Friend of the Brand to Mercedes-Benz and a physics and science student. Filling in the details of rapidly evolving technology and mobility innovations was Jerry Stamoulis, product communications manager for Mercedes-Benz Australia- Pacific.
Ally Watson, who co-founded the ‘Code Like a Girl’ organisation to introduce more females to technology, has been among the first to drive the brand-new A-Class – she was handed the key just four weeks after obtaining her driver’s licence. The self-confessed nervous driver said the myriad intelligent functions in the A-Class transformed her opinion of driving.
“Parking, you have 360-degree cameras, you can see everywhere. Driving, the car is helping me steer in the lane. You just feel so safe. It’s got your back,” she told the audience. “You do reach a point where you don’t know how you lived without technology. I think technology can really change people’s lives for the better, if it’s done well…I can’t go back to my normal car now. This is just another way of living.”
Cam McEvoy, dubbed ‘The Professor’ by his swimming friends for his fascination with deeply scientific studies such as cosmology and particle physics, offered his own unique take as he presented a hands-on tour of the fully-redesigned premium compact offering from Mercedes-Benz.
“Technology is always evolving, but you know you’ve reached a new epoch when something that was integrated in your life day-in and day-out becomes obsolete and replaced by something that’s much easier to use,” said McEvoy, who plans to become a physicist and hopes to become involved in space exploration after completing his studies.
“With the AI (artificial intelligence), it creates a much more personal connection to the car, and it’s got the technology that over time it will learn your habits. It’s incredible, but so accessible as well.”
Jerry Stamoulis said an exciting future isn’t as far away as many people believe, with Mercedes-Benz already investing in start-ups such as Volocopter, which is developing automated flying taxis, and also preparing in the near future to roll out self-driving and emission-free vehicles.
“We’re investing in a number of start-ups. Obviously our main focus is automotive at this stage in terms of autonomous technologies, which the A-Class has, and the rest of range will also receive. But we are moving towards a driverless future,” he said.
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is on sale now and starts at $47,200 MRLP. Visit www.mercedes-benz.com.au for full details and model specifications.
Images by Simon Shiff & Jayden Ostwald.