And it's asking for your help.
When cars go fully autonomous (as they inevitably will), it'll open up a whole new world of possibilities for occupants to spend their time while under way. Just one of those possibilities entails turning the vehicle's interior into an immersive video-game platform. And Mercedes-Benz, for one, isn't about to miss the proverbial boat on that action.
The German automaker has launched the In-Car Gaming Challenge to crowdsource innovative new ideas for how to turn its future self-driving cars into mobile gaming systems. And in the process, it's outlined just some of the possibilities for what that could look like.
The steering wheel and pedals could be used to control the game, for example – particularly conducive for driving sims. So could the infotainment system, which in some of its latest vehicles can be operated in no less than five ways: through the touchscreen, touchpad, steering-wheel buttons, by voice, and by mid-air gesture.
The seats could move to simulate motion, the audio system play sounds, ambient lighting programmed to illuminate virtual scenery, the seatbelt tensioners tighten to suggest deceleration, tactile feedback from the displays and controls could augment the experience, even the climate-control system could generate wind and pipe in scents.
The contest is open to individual and teams of programmers, and extends to buses and mobile apps as well. So we could find ourselves riding on Silver-Starred buses playing against other passengers, or playing Mercedes games on our phones at home, on the train, or in-flight. The contest is also open to educational applications for adults and children.
It's not the first time Mercedes has toyed with the idea. It recently showcased a CLA equipped to play SuperTuxKart, and was the first automaker to jump into the eSports scene – to say nothing of all the virtual Benzes playable in driving games.