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Mercedes reveals autonomous van concept

Vision Urbanetic van/people mover envisages future mobility for Mercedes-Benz

11 Sep 2018

MERCEDES-BENZ has uncovered its latest van concept, called Vision Urbanetic, which features autonomous driving capability, an all-electric powertrain and the modularity to switch between a van and people mover.
The car-maker sees the Vision Urbanetic as the future of urban mobility, allowing for around-the-clock operation, lower running costs, intelligent machine learning and flexible storage options.
With an electrically powered chassis, the Vision Urbanetic can switch between a ride-sharing and load-carrying vehicle with a replaceable load space measuring 3700mm, compared to the 5140mm total vehicle length.
It can accommodate up to 12 passengers when used as a people mover, while when in van form features a load space of 10.3 cubic metres that can fit up to ten Euro-spec pallets with a variable load floor. 
Mercedes says the two models can be swapped out automatically or manually, with the automated process taking “just a few minutes”.
Using fully automated driving technology, the Vision Urbanetic does away with a traditional cabin with a steering wheel, pedals and the like, therefore increasing usable interior dimensions.
The van concept incorporates intelligent learning that can analyse real-time traffic and nearby events such as concerts to optimise travel efficiency on the fly. It can also use the timing of events to determine when large groups of people are gathered in a particular location, therefore increasing the effectiveness of its ride-sharing capabilities.
Mercedes sees the Vision Urbanetic as being beneficial to business owners, due to it being able to operate essentially any time of day and without the need to pay for a driver. The only time it will be unable to perform its duties is when charging and undergoing maintenance.
Being connected to IT infrastructure, the van concept can be connected to fleet management systems that allow access in restricted areas such as factories and airports.
Using a series of light projections including a large-format display on the front of the vehicle, the Vision Urbanetic is able to communicate with pedestrians and road-users, informing them it is aware of their presence.
The Vision Urbanetic employs an all-electric battery powertrain in anticipation of urban driving restrictions particularly in European cities, however factors such as driving range and power output have not been detailed.
Mercedes unveiled another all-electric van concept almost two years ago to the day, the Vision Van, a parcel delivery vehicle that incorporated autonomous loading, a joystick in place of a steering wheel and pedals, and two drones which drop the packages off to individual households when within a 10km radius.
At the time it also announced a €500 million ($A815m) investment over the next five years to develop a strategic initiative called adVANce, which aims to revolutionise the way cargo and packages are delivered on the road.

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