MERCEDES gives a glimpse of the future for its vans at this week’s IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover with what it says is the ‘vanguard of Mercedes future’: autonomous, electric, drones – and no steering wheel .
The Mercedes-Benz Vision Van combines an all-electric drivetrain with autonomous drive and drone technology that can deliver parcels right to people’s doors.
At the business end, it uses a modular loading system that fits directly into the back of the van, with all of the parcels pre-loaded and programmed for delivery. The autonomous cargo bed can be pre-programmed before a journey, so that operators can swap loads in seconds when an empty van returns to depot.
As well as standard doors, the Vision Van has two roof-mounted drones that can deliver parcels to customers’ doors.
According to Mercedes, an algorithm will be used to power and control the whole system, deciding on how packages are loaded, the order in which they are delivered, and the route for both the van and the drones.
The cargo system automatically grabs each package and presents it to the delivery driver to hand over to the customer, or it raises a parcel to the roof of the van and attaches it to one of the drones for autonomous delivery from the air.
The Vision Van uses a battery and a 75kW, 270Nm motor to give delivery ranges of up to 270km and a top speed of 80mph. With no steering wheel, it can drive itself, but a built-in joystick inside the cabin allows a human driver to have as much control as they need over braking, accelerating and steering.
“We are very proud of it,” said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles. “It will support deliveries in a number of ways and most significant are the aerial drones. In 2020, Mercedes-Benz will be a very different type of van in a number of ways and this is the vanguard.”
To find out more about Mercedes-Benz Vans innovations click here.