Mercedes-Benz has introduced its Vision Urbanetic, a self-driving, electrically powered concept vehicle with a switchable body.
The base device is a powertrain chassis that can take different switchable bodies for people or goods to be transported. When set up as ride-sharing vehicle, the Urbanetic can carry up to 12 passengers and in cargo mode, can carry up to 10 pallets.
The idea is for the tracking technology associated with the vehicles to identify needs within cities.
“Thanks to full networking, the evaluation of local information, such as concerts and events, and intelligent control, the system not only analyses current needs, it can also learn from them. It is thus able to anticipate and react to future needs,” states the announcement from Mercedes. “This can optimize processes and help shorten waiting and delivery times and avoid traffic jams. For instance, the overall system can use the data captured by the vehicle control center, which collates, and analyzes 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.”
The Mercedes vision involves transporting more people and goods with fewer vehicles to relieve inner cities. The modules that sit atop the powertrain can be switched automatically or manually, with the automated process taking a few minutes, according to the company.
The autonomous driving function resides in the powertrain, which can make its way to its next job location without a body attached, as portrayed in a video by Mercedes.