Can Mercedes make autonomous cars as simple as child's play?
Moovel lab children's book 'Where Do Cars Go at Night?'
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:15PM EDT
Mercedes is publishing a book for bedtime that might not help children understand the facts of life but could help explain the family car can drive itself.
Launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair on Wednesday, "Where Do Cars Go at Night?" is an attempt to demystify one of the most complex technological aspects of our lives in the very near future -- the autonomous car.
The book, created by moovel Group -- a Mercedes-Benz research company -- tells the story of a plug-in electric self-driving car called Clara-15.
The action revolves around a typical day for her and her equally autonomous friends, beginning with trips to and from school and the office during the morning and on to the adventures they experience at night as part of a car-sharing fleet of taxis, ad-hoc street cleaners and even municipal vehicles for watering plants and gardens. Then it's back to the recharging point to top up the batteries again.
Developments in self-driving car technology are coming thick and fast with a number of carmakers from BMW and Nissan to Volvo pledging to have their first fully autonomous vehicles ready by 2020.
And while the tech is moving quickly, other elements, such as the ethics, morals and responsibilities, not to mention regulation and legislation are struggling to keep pace.
While momentum is with the technological element, so too will be the language. It's why in recent months a number of organizations, including the Thatcham Group in the UK have called for a recalibration and simplification of the language and terms surrounding self-driving cars so that consumers can better understand the issues, developments and potential risks.
And while some may argue that turning the situation into a children's bedtime story is taking things too far, "Where Do Cars Go at Night?" is a very valid attempt to examine the future of individual mobility and present what that future may hold in a way that makes discussion simple for all the family.
Before publication, moovel took the book for a test drive with pre-school and school children, using Clara 15's story to get the next generation to talk about their visions for the future. You can watch a video of the project here.
The Frankfurt Book Fair runs from October 19 - 23.