Mercedes Vision Urbanetic concept is versatile driverless van

by Greg Kable, Autocar UK 11 Sep 2018

Mercedes-Benz’s commercial vehicle division has revealed a new autonomous mobility concept ahead of its public debut at next week’s 2018 commercial vehicle show in Hanover, Germany.

Called the Vision Urbanetic, the new concept has been conceived to eliminate the separation that currently exists between people moving and goods transport through the adoption of a self-driving, electrically powered skateboard-style chassis that can accept different bodies, either as a roomy ride-sharing vehicle or goods transporter.

As a ride-sharing vehicle, the Vision Urbanetic can accommodate up to 12 passengers, while the cargo module can be divided into two levels and transport up to 10 EPAL pallets within a load space of 10 cubic metres. A load length of 3700mm fits into a total vehicle length of 5140mm. 

The different bodies can be changed either automatically or manually, according to Mercedes, with the automated process claimed to take “just a few minutes”. Further body derivatives are under development and expected to be shown in the future.

The autonomous chassis to which the bodies are attached incorporates all the hardware required for the driverless features to function, allowing the Vision Urbanetic to travel to locations without a body attached. The new concept also showcases an IT infrastructure that analyses in real time the supply and demand of either ride-hailing passengers or goods within a defined delivery area.  

Mercedes says the Vision Urbanetic’s electric powertrain makes it highly suitable for city centres and areas subject to legal access restrictions. Its near-silent operation also presents new options for night-time deliveries, the firm says.