Mercedes-Benz Vans has unveiled its Vision URBANETIC, a revolutionary mobility concept that eliminates the separation between people moving and goods transport. It enables on-demand, sustainable and efficient movement of people and goods.

The visionary concept is based on a self-driving, electrically powered chassis that can take different switchable bodies for people moving or goods transport. As a ride-sharing vehicle, Vision URBANETIC can accommodate up to twelve passengers, while the cargo module can carry up to ten EPAL pallets.

Fully networked and part of a comprehensive ecosystem

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

Two interchangeable modules for people and goods

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 system is based on an autonomous driving platform onto which the respective bodies are fixed. It incorporates all the driving functions, meaning the autonomous chassis can also make its way to its next job location without a body attached. Absolute safety is guaranteed by redundant components for all relevant actions such as steering, braking and acceleration.

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.

Wide-ranging interaction builds trust in autonomous driving

Vision URBANETIC uses car-to-x communication via a standardised platform to interact with other vehicles and road users and to recognise road signs and traffic signals. Interaction with the passengers is more complex as they are used to communicating with a human being. To build trust and allay uncertainty, the HMI in Vision URBANETIC must ensure that all processes, from reserving a trip to exiting the vehicle at the destination, are as simple and self-explanatory as possible. Booking via an app is the starting point.

Once a trip reservation has been made, the app shows where the user can board. Furthermore, the user receives a two-digit vehicle number, the colour of the display and a self-chosen avatar. When the Vision URBANETIC approaches the meeting point, the number and symbol are shown on the side display in the selected colour. Subsequent passenger authentication can take one of several forms: via an app or, on the next level, via a fingerprint or facial recognition.

Vehicle status (waiting, driving) is communicated to the outside world via a front-end display in the radiator grille. When the vehicle starts up and is about to set off, the sensors visibly deploy as a signal to the outside world of imminent movement.

The 360-degree halo display installed in the ceiling conveys the most important base information on the route, while augmented-reality (AR) elements for the user app on individual mobile devices enhance the journey with information tailored specifically to the passenger – from tourist hotspots in the city to news from individually selected topics. Other available features include suggested route guidance based on predetermined parameters and the respective user profile. The fastest route for commuters, the most inexpensive route for cost optimisation or a route that provides a succession of city sights – a wide range of available choices.

The user app on the passenger’s mobile device offers functions that extend way beyond searching for and booking connections. It guides the passenger to their virtual stop and to their final destination on exiting the vehicle – either with a two-dimensional map view or AR-guided navigation.

Read more about URBANETIC here

Source: Daimler