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Mercedes-Benz Vans unveils Vision URBANETIC; self-driving EV with switchable bodies

Mercedes-Benz Vans unveiled its Vision URBANETIC mobility concept. Vision URBANETIC eliminates the separation between people moving and goods transport. It enables on-demand, sustainable and efficient movement of people and goods and applies an innovative approach to fulfil the needs of cities, businesses from diverse sectors as well as city dwellers and travellers. The concept ideally reduces traffic flows, relieves inner-city infrastructures and contributes to an improved quality of urban life.

The visionary concept is based on a self-driving, electrically powered chassis that can take different switchable bodies for people moving or goods transport. The modules are switched either automatically or manually, with the automated process taking just a few minutes. The system is based on an autonomous driving platform onto which the respective bodies are fixed.

It incorporates all the driving functions, meaning the autonomous chassis can also make its way to its next job location without a body attached. Absolute safety is guaranteed by redundant components for all relevant actions such as steering, braking and acceleration.

As a ride-sharing vehicle, Vision URBANETIC can accommodate up to twelve passengers, while the cargo module can carry up to ten Euro pallets (EPALs). A load space 3.70 meters long fits into a total vehicle length of 5.14 meters.

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Mercedes-Benz Vision URBANETIC cargo module, people move module and chassis.

The concept incorporates an IT infrastructure that analyzes in real time the supply and demand within a defined area. The result is a self-driving fleet, with routes planned flexibly and efficiently on the basis of current transportation needs.

With full networking, the evaluation of local information—such as concerts and events—and intelligent control, the system not only analyzes current needs, it can also learn from them. It is thus able to anticipate and react to future needs.

This can optimize processes and help shorten waiting and delivery times and avoid traffic jams. For example, the overall system can use the data captured by the vehicle control center—which collates and analyzes needs—to identify a crowd of people gathering in a certain area. It can send vehicles there to quickly and efficiently satisfy the increased demand. The system can thus react flexibly and is not based on rigid routes or fixed timetables.

Mercedes-Benz Vans envisages transporting more people and goods with fewer vehicles on a virtually unchanged roads infrastructure in order to relieve inner cities and, at the same time, fulfil continually growing mobility requirements and customer desires.

As a fully networked vehicle, Vision URBANETIC is part of an ecosystem in which commercial and private mobility wishes are transmitted digitally. Vision URBANETIC collates these needs and fulfills them with a highly flexible fleet, facilitating a considerable improvement in the use of resources.

The system architecture of the autonomous Vision URBANETIC ensures continual route adaptation using real-time traffic information. The operator’s fleet management is also part of the IT system, with usage conceivable in restricted areas such as a factory site or airport as well as in road traffic.

Comments

Engineer-Poet

Interesting.  The ability to operate as a bare chassis means that cargo modules can be dropped at delivery points, like semi-trailers; the chassis can go elsewhere to pick up another load or to charge without waiting.

ai_vin

The caveat here is that these chassis don't look like they could offload a module themselves, they wouldn't even have a driver to unhitch a trailer like a semi does. Anywhere I've worked the delivery trucks all came with at-least a hand truck or cargo dolly so the driver could unload the freight. This idea only shifts those duties to the destination points which are going to need new personal, equipment, and space to do that.

JMartin

It is easier to hire someone at a stationary site to unload than to hire a driver who does that.

Engineer-Poet

It would be easy to just have garage bays that the transport can pull into, pick up or drop off a cargo module, and slip out again.  Hoists are simple enough that it should be no difficulty arranging for them.  The real trick would be having an arrangement which can hold both an empty module and a loaded one in the same bay so it could swap a full one for empty (or vice versa, for recycling or trash pickup) on the same visit without having to have two garage bays.

If it's indoors, staff can unload a bare cargo module at their convenience.  They don't have to rush everything onto shelves or racks right away as with a box truck, they can just call for the module to be picked up when it's ready.

HarveyD

After All-In-One (AIO) computers; this is an AIO modular driverless EV usable as a mini-bus for people, mini-truck for cargo and mini-EV for commercial/private users etc etc.

It may sound a bit Star-Trek but it is as great idea and a possible solution to near future transportation.

Two (2) similar 12/15 passenger driverless mini-buses have been put in operation on a limited 1.6 Km route in Montreal, QC as a free service.

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