Mercedes-Benz Unveils Vision Urbanetic: A Revolutionary Autonomous Van Concept

Mercedes-Benz thinks the future of autonomous driving needs to address both passenger and cargo needs.

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a radical new concept for urban transportation. The Vision Urbanetic concept is a glimpse into what the carmaker imagines what city transportation will look like in 2030 and beyond. 

The concept revolves around the idea of a fully autonomous chassis with interchangeable pods that can switch between people movers to cargo delivery to suit city demand. 

The cargo option is a rounded box with a volume of 10 cubic meters. That is about the right amount of space for 10 EPAL pallets. The passenger version of the swappable pod has room for 12 people who will sit in a circular formation inside a swooping ergonomic capsule.

Mercedes-Benz Unveils Vision Urbanetic: A Revolutionary Autonomous Van Concept
Source: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz shares a vision that prioritizes car-sharing

Mercedes-Benz indicates that the vehicles are intended for ride-sharing rather than individual ownership. The totally autonomous vehicle has no need for a steering wheel, instead, a large high-resolution display shows route information. 

Mercedes-Benz Unveils Vision Urbanetic: A Revolutionary Autonomous Van Concept
Source: Mercedes-Benz

An onboard computer manages the navigation, route updates and receives information about changing environmental conditions from a range of sensors.

"The concept reduces traffic flows, relieves inner-city infrastructures and contributes to an improved quality of urban life."

Mercedes-Benz describes the concept saying, "It enables on-demand, sustainable and efficient movement of people and goods – and applies an innovative approach to fulfill the needs of cities, businesses from diverse sectors as well as city dwellers and travelers.

The concept reduces traffic flows, relieves inner-city infrastructures and contributes to an improved quality of urban life."

Local zero-emissions mobility key for urban areas

The Mercedes-Benz concept has a battery-electric drive which delivers true zero-local-emissions mobility. Not only is this a win for the environment, Mercedes-Benz seems to be preempting future restrictions on fossil fuel dependent vehicles to access dense urban areas. 

As well as creating a full system that responds to a city’s changing needs, or more passenger vehicles during peak hours, the Urbanetic Vision system is smart and never stops learning. Embedded with machine learning, the system architecture allows for continual route adaptation in response to real-time traffic information. 

Mercedes-Benz Unveils Vision Urbanetic: A Revolutionary Autonomous Van Concept
Source: Mercedes-Benz

Smart management system updated with real-time information

Mercedes-Bemz imagines the users of the system will engage with the vehicles through an app that is intuitive and allows for quick switching between passenger and cargo modes.

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While many car companies have been keen to show off their vision for the future of transport, Mercedes-Benz is among the first to offer switchable body on a smart drivetrain. While the company doesn’t go into granular detail about how the bodies get switched over, they do emphasize the fact that this is a system designed for future cities where zero emissions, flexibility and responsiveness is key. 

Not only are the cars smart but this is a system literally embedded in the city. The smart autonomous system managing the fleet would receive feedback on where people are grouping and send passenger vehicles to those areas for car sharing. 

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