Innovation


The new A-Class leads the charge into an exciting future.

1 August 2018

Innovation


The new A-Class leads the charge into an exciting future.

1 August 2018

Dave Thornton on stage beside the Mercedes A-Class

Comedian Dave Thornton introduced the A-Class to an eager crowd. Image: Simon Shiff.

An immersive event held at Mercedes me Store Melbourne detailed an exciting future in which cars will anticipate our needs and connect us to the greater world in surprising new ways.

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class might have been the focal point of the function, but attendees also were given a tantalising glimpse into an exciting future through the eyes of Mercedes-Benz.

They heard that fully electric and emission-free cars as well as fully autonomous vehicles are at an advanced stage of development and will be hitting the road in the next handful of years.

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.

A seamless driving experience


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.

Dave Thornton, Ally Watson and Cameron McEvoy on stage

Thornton questioned coder Ally Watson and gold medallist. Image: Simon Shiff.
 

Filling in the details of rapidly evolving technology and mobility innovations was Jerry Stamoulis, Mercedes-Benz Australia's head of media relations and product communications. Ally Watson, who co-founded the Code Like a Girl organisation to introduce more women to technology, was 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.”

The A-Class is just the beginning


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.

Dave Thornton, Ally Watson, Cameron McEvoy and Jerry Stamoulis on stage

Image: Simon Shiff.

“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 has unveiled its first automated flying taxi, and is also preparing 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.

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By Steve Colquhoun