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.

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.

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...

Recommended

Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door coupe gets a facelift for 2021
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door 2021 facelift - front
Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door coupe gets a facelift for 2021

A small selection of visual and technological updates for the six-cylinder 53 and 43 variants of the AMG GT 4-door have been announced by Mercedes
14 Jun 2021
'Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers doesn’t have to be popular, he has to deliver'
Opinion Tobias Moers
Aston Martin

'Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers doesn’t have to be popular, he has to deliver'

Steve Fowler gets the inside track on Tobias Moers' future plans for Aston Martin
12 May 2021
New 2022 Mercedes EQS SUV spied for the first time
Mercedes EQS SUV
Mercedes

New 2022 Mercedes EQS SUV spied for the first time

Mercedes will soon expand its EQ line-up with a flagship SUV that shares the same Hyperscreen infotainment system as the EQS saloon
10 May 2021
New Mercedes EQT electric van concept set for 10 May reveal
Mercedes EQT
Mercedes

New Mercedes EQT electric van concept set for 10 May reveal

New Mercedes EQT concept confirms that T-Class line-up will feature fully electric power
22 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021