Ahead of the upcoming IAA commercial transport fair in Hannover, Mercedes-Benz Vans has released news of a new concept AV which embodies some interesting ideas.
The Vision Urbanetic is an electric, autonomous system based around a skateboard-style chassis which allows for two bodyshells to be quickly swapped in – a flat-sided 10-cubic-metre-capacity freight module, or a 12-seater people mover. Those two options put the vehicle in line for last-mile parcel drops or small business deliveries, but also as a ridesharing or taxi service.
The distinctive DRG has more to it than just pretty graphics, apparently: “LED displays front and rear communicate with the outside world,“ says the firm, “and inform pedestrians and other road users about the vehicle’s imminent actions and reactions. Instead of headlamps, the skateboard chassis is fitted with sensors that deploy or retract depending on driving status and thus serve as an indicator for autonomous driving.
In the somewhat cycle-helmet-like people-mover mode, the passenger cabin is divided into three different zones: a lounge in the rear, a zone in the middle for standing and a seated area up front.
“The rear section offers passengers a protected space with a cocooning effect,“ says Mercedes. “They can’t be seen from outside and can enjoy their privacy during the journey. In the central area close to the door is a space where passengers on short journeys can stand or lean. The front area is open and surrounded by windows. Tourists sitting here can relax and enjoy views of the city along the way.
“There are premium materials like wood and leather throughout the interior, with brand accents set by the Silver Arrow trim on the doors and frames.
“The interior is a digital experience that uses innovatively and intelligently interlinked communication media to offer passengers a continual feed of key information on their respective journeys as well as a variety of entertainment features to make the ride as enjoyable as possible. It centres around a completely new kind of 360-degree display that can show everything from the classic information on stops to the location of nearby points of interest to its own little games. Thanks to augmented reality, passengers can now also bring the city into the vehicle. This feature offers the opportunity to explore the surroundings during the trip based on a diverse array of criteria.
“In a particularly nice touch, the designers have come up with a water dispenser from which passengers can buy “Sternwasser” (star water), a special mineral water in an aesthetically designed bottle, via smartphone.”
Meanwhile, the more workmanlike cargo body which apparently references shipping containers, maximises space via a “triangular design language, in contrast to the rounded people-mover module, and the intelligent Cargo Flex Floor, which provides a second load level as required or folds away for maximum load height. The functional emphasis of the design underscores the sparing use of materials and focus on lightweight construction.”
In a typically unassuming and perfectly on-brand quote, Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG, said: “Vision Urbanetic takes our design language of sensual purity way into the future. We’ve created a standalone aesthetic for a mobility concept that has never before existed.”
There’s a video below which explains more – also take a look at the gallery at right which features some nice sketches too.