SWITCHABLE BODIES KEY TO MERCEDES-BENZ AUTONOMOUS BUSES
A SOMEWHAT CHAMELEON-ESQUE ability to change bodies for either people-moving shuttle bus duties, or cargo van-delivery services, makes the recently announced Mercedes-Benz Vision URBANETIC autonomous vehicle a ground-breaking concept for future urban mobility, said the company, adding that it goes “way beyond existing ideas on autonomous vehicles”.
Eliminating “the separation between people moving and goods transport,” the Vision URBANETIC enables on-demand, sustainable and efficient movement of people and goods – and applies an innovative approach to fulfil the needs of cities, businesses from diverse sectors, as well as city dwellers and travellers, said the company. The concept reduces traffic flows, relieves inner-city infrastructures and contributes to an improved quality of urban life, according to Mercedes-Benz.
Intriguingly, Vision URBANETIC is said to be equipped with different interchangeable bodies depending on purpose of use. As a ride-sharing vehicle with a people-mover body, it offers space for up to 12 passengers. The modules are switched either automatically or manually, with the automated process taking just a few minutes. As stated, 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, says MB.
Thanks to its variable load floor, it can be divided into two levels with load space volume of 10m3. Multiple further-use cases are also conceivable as the concept can be equipped with an array of bodies for other sectors and applications, it’s stated.
Due to fully automated driverless operation, operating costs fall significantly with Vision URBANETIC, says Mercedes-Benz. Plus, with the exception of charging times for the battery-electric drive and maintenance periods, each vehicle can be in use around the clock, 365 days a year, it’s claimed.
The system architecture of the autonomous Vision URBANETIC ensures continual route adaptation using real-time traffic information. The operator’s fleet management is also part of the IT system, with usage conceivable in restricted areas, such as a factory site or airport, as well as in road traffic.
Its electric drive delivers zero-localemissions mobility, thus making it the perfect vehicle for city centres and areas subject to legal access restrictions, MB says. The electric drive is virtually noiseless.