Open Champion, Henrik Stenson, arrived at Royal Birkdale…in this

Henrik Stenson loves a good entrance. At last year’s Masters, he rolled down Magnolia Lane to some Vanilla Ice. His latest arrival might be his best.

“As is tradition, the defending champion has to return the claret jug to the R&A at the beginning of Open week. The 41-year-old added a little twist by showing up in a metallic, autonomous Mercedes-Benz F 015 that appears to be from the future.”

The Mercedes-Benz F 015’s self-driving journey started back in 2011 in Mercedes’s Tokyo design studio. The brief was not to create a production autonomous vehicle, rather to examine what is possible with the technology available.

So it’s not a concept car showcasing the eventuality of a watered-down version you’ll be able to buy at a dealership in a couple of years’ time. It’s a research vehicle, a $50m automotive lab rat designed to showcase and test the technologies that could define what a luxury vehicle might be like by the year 2030.

It seems more than a coincidence that Merc picked 2030 as the F 015’s fictional launch date. The year 2029 is the date machine-learning boffin Alan Turing predicted–by projecting the rate of computer development–that a machine would be able to think like a human.

Mercedes has either borrowed that thinking or, in a typically thorough Merc way, done its own calculations that have led it to the same conclusion. Either way, the F 015 is packed to the roof with technologies that try to understand and smooth the car-human interface, inside and outside the vehicle.

–Pat Devereux