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Mercedes-Benz unveils the urban future

The mobility concepts are embedded within an intelligent, self-learning IT infrastructure

The new self-driving on-demand mobility concept for people- or goods-moving
The new self-driving on-demand mobility concept for people- or goods-moving

Mercedes-Benz Vans has presented its Vision Urbanetic, a revolutionary mobility concept that it says goes “way beyond” existing ideas on autonomous vehicles and seeks to eliminate the separation between people moving and goods transport.


The company explains that 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. It claims the concept reduces traffic flows, relieves inner-city infrastructures and contributes to an improved quality of urban life.


Switchable bodies


As part of a holistic system solution, the concept is based on a self-driving, electrically powered chassis that can take different switchable bodies for people moving or goods transport.


A load space 3.70m long fits into a total vehicle length of 5.14m. It incorporates an IT infrastructure that analyses 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.


Intelligence built in means it can also learn and is able to anticipate and react to future needs. For instance, the overall system can use the data captured by the vehicle control centre – which collates and analyses 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.


Comprehensive ecosystem


Mercedes-Benz Vans is pursuing an ambitious target with its Vision Urbanetic. It envisages transporting more people and goods with fewer vehicles on a virtually unchanged roads infrastructure to relieve inner cities and, at the same time, fulfil continually growing mobility requirements and customer desires.


This would ultimately facilitate an improved quality of urban life – with flexible and comfortable movement of people, efficient and sustainable transportation of goods, significantly lower noise and pollutant emissions and greater freedom in city planning.


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


The people and goods modules


To achieve this level of flexibility, Vision Urbanetic is equipped with different interchangeable bodies depending on purpose of use. As a ride-sharing vehicle with a people-mover body, Vision Urbanetic offers space for up to twelve passengers. The modules are switched either automatically or manually, with the automated process taking just a few minutes.


The cargo module serves as a classic goods transporter. Thanks to its variable load floor, it can be divided into two levels and transport up to ten EPAL palettes. The load space has a volume of 10 m3. Alternatively, the vehicle can be fitted with fully automated cargo-space systems and used as a mobile package station for last-mile deliveries. Multiple further use cases are also conceivable as the concept can be equipped with a wide array of bodies for other sectors and applications.


At home on a factory site or in the city


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.


Vision Urbanetic’s electric drive delivers zero-local-emissions mobility, thus making it the perfect vehicle for city centres and areas subject to legal access restrictions. The virtually noiseless electric drive also presents new options for late or night-time deliveries and thus offers major commercial potential.


Communication with the outside world

Many people still view autonomous vehicles with the certain degree of scepticism. To address this, Vision Urbanetic adopts a new approach, particularly with its people-mover body. The vehicle uses multiple cameras and sensor systems to observe its surroundings in their entirety and communicates actively with them. It uses the large-format display on the front of the vehicle to inform pedestrians crossing the street in front of it that it has noticed them.


Another highlight is digital shadowing around the side door. Several hundred light units display the contours of approaching individuals along the flanks, signalling to them that the Vision Urbanetic has noticed them.


Vision Urbanetic will be on display in the Mercedes-Benz hall at the IAA show in Hannover from 20-27 September 2018


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