Skip advert
Advertisement

Mercedes Vision Urbanetic concept previews a driverless urban future

Mercedes Vans has revealed its concept of connected urban transport for 2030 and beyond

Mercedes-Benz Vans has dusted off its crystal ball and revealed its vision of future urban mobility, the Vision Urbanetic concept. Bosses claim that this fully autonomous design study showcases what city transportation will look like in 2030 and beyond, with the basis of the concept being a fully autonomous chassis with interchangeable bodies to cater for different demands, 24 hours a day.

Advertisement - Article continues below

As part of the concept's reveal, Mercedes showcased a cargo version and a passenger carrier, both of which are interchangeable with the full electric chassis. The platform features what Mercedes describes as an 'IT infrastructure', which uses computer learning and real-time traffic info and a 'supply and demand' model that allows Urbanetic to switch between cargo and passenger bodies as and when they're needed.

Everything you need to know about driverless cars

The box-shaped cargo body has a design inspired by the containers that are loaded on to cargo ships, and it has a volume of 10 cubic metres. There's enough floor space for 10 EPAL pallets, while the load space is 3.7 metres long. The passenger cell has room for 12 people sat in a 360-degree layout, and is geared towards ride sharing. High resolution displays show vehicle destination and other information, while a powerful on-board computer plans route guidance according to the stops needed for deliveries or passenger collection, and this processing power also means route updates and revisions are made in an instant to avoid potential hold-ups.

This computing power comes from every Urbanetic vehicle within a network, and a central control centre can 'learn' traffic patterns and manage the autonomous fleet so that it is in the right place at the right time to suit demand. The aim of Vision Urbanetic is to transport more cargo and passengers using fewer vehicles on an urban road network largely unchanged from its current state. One example used was for construction work, where the Urbanetic can deliver the tools and materials needed to a work site overnight - when traffic is quieter - detach its cargo body, then return to base, attach a passenger body, then provide a shuttle service to get workers to the site during the day.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Urbanetic concept places all of the vehicle's running gear into its own pod, which the interchangeable bodies can be placed upon. The switchover can be done manually or automatically, with the latter only taking a few minutes, while the bare chassis can drive autonomously from one location to another to get a new body fitted if necessary.

Mercedes Vision Urbanetic cargo carrier body

The interchangeable cargo body is able to carry a greater load volume than a standard van, thanks to the extra space created by the fully autonomous drive tech. The fact it doen't need a cab with seating, steering wheel and pedals means there's more space to carry cargo. As well as being able to carry 10 EPAL pallets, the interior can be fitted out with double-deck shelving, while Mercedes' concept sees the body fitted with assorted systems designed to cater for a variety of urban delivery and business needs.

Mercedes has also unveiled an autonomous forklift loader, which is designed to load up the cargo body without human interaction. That means it can be done at any time of the day, ensuring goods are ready on time.

Mercedes Vision Urbanetic passenger carrier body

The 12-seat passenger cell is designed to offer a premium interior for those on board, while the futuristic body features LED lighting that illuminates to let other road users and pedestrians know that the Urbanetic has detected them using the variety of sensors and cameras around the passenger cell. The oval panoramic glass roof adds a digital halo display that shows destination details and other information.

Does this Mercedes concept look like the future of urban transport to you? Let us know in the comments...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

New Mercedes-AMG PureSpeed concept previews ultra-exclusive Mythos series cars
Mercedes-AMG PureSpeed concept front 3/4
News

New Mercedes-AMG PureSpeed concept previews ultra-exclusive Mythos series cars

A production version of the PureSpeed two-seat speedster will be unveiled next year as the first car in the new Mythos series, and only 250 examples w…
22 May 2024
Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed
Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 - EQS badge
News

Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed

Mercedes will roll back EQ branding for its electric cars as the first generation of EV models reaches the end of its lifecycle.
15 May 2024
Most expensive cars sold at auction
Most expensive cars - header image
Best cars & vans

Most expensive cars sold at auction

These are the most valuable cars to ever go under the hammer
8 May 2024
UK new car buyers love a Mercedes-Benz but Ford is favourite when used
Mercedes A-Class - front cornering
News

UK new car buyers love a Mercedes-Benz but Ford is favourite when used

Data from YouGov’s BrandIndex shows that Mercedes-Benz is a top choice with new car buyers, with used buyers favouring Ford
2 May 2024

Most Popular

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range
Kia EV3 - front
News

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range

Kia expands its electric line up with the EV3 – taking plenty of inspiration from the flagship EV9
23 May 2024
New 2024 Nissan Qashqai prices and specs announced as family SUV war heats up
Nissan Qashqai reveal - full front
News

New 2024 Nissan Qashqai prices and specs announced as family SUV war heats up

The start price for the Nissan Qashqai has increased by £3,000 due to the loss of the old entry-level Visia trim
24 May 2024
Citroen C3 review
Citroen e-C3 - front
In-depth reviews

Citroen C3 review

A clever rethink of the small, affordable car theme, the C3 and its all-electric e-C3 twin have the potential to really shake up the market
22 May 2024