Mercedes-Benz has always held a reputation for forward thinking, staying at the leading edge of innovation throughout its history. It continues to do so today, and the latest example of this is a new mobility concept that turns an eye toward the future of transportation: Vision URBANETIC.
Mercedes-Benz Vans created the Vision URBANETIC concept to take advantage of autonomous vehicle technology to remove the barrier between vehicles focused on the transport of goods and those made to move people. The concept operates first with a self-driving, all-electric chassis sled, which can then transport different, interchangeable bodies to carry either passengers or goods. In addition, Mercedes-Benz envisions an IT infrastructure to accompany the vehicles that will analyze supply and demand in a given area in real time, resulting in a self-driving fleet of vehicles that bring goods efficiently and flexibly based on current needs.
Overall, Mercedes-Benz says that Vision URBANETIC would transport more people and goods on existing road infrastructure using fewer vehicles. Doing so would solve the dual inner-city problems of congested streets and high transportation demand. Since Vision URBANETIC is all-electric, is would also result in less noise pollution and harmful emissions. On the cost side of the equation, the Vision URBANETIC concept reduces operating costs by using a driverless sled. This saves on personnel costs while letting the system work around the clock, save for charging times.
A major part of the flexibility of Vision URBANETIC is the switchable bodies that work on conjunction with the sled. With a passenger-oriented body, there is enough room to accommodate up to a dozen people. When swapped for a cargo body module, the concept can carry up to ten pallets thanks to a possible two levels of storage with a maximum 353 cubic feet of cargo volume.Mercedes-Benz Vans points out that there exists the potential to apply the format to other needs and uses, too.
Owners can switch the modules either automatically or manually, with Mercedes-Benz reporting that the automatic process only takes a few minutes. Once a module is off the chassis, the chassis can move itself between sites to pick up other modules.
Should Mercedes-Benz find a way to bring Vision URBANETIC to market at a large scale, it could prove a major breakthrough in urban mobility solutions.
This article is presented by Zimbrick European in Madison, WI.