September 11th, 2018 by Kyle Field
Mercedes-Benz Vans took to the interwebs to announce its new fully autonomous mobility platform. The Urbanetic self-driving platform takes all of the electric powertrain components of the now ubiquitous electric skateboard platform and adds the ability to dynamically adjust the body that is bolted to the top.
The fully autonomous, conceptual Urbanetic can host cargo loads or people-movers thanks to its integrated pod system. The ability to dynamically, autonomously switch from a cargo hauler to a people hauler conceptually allows a fleet of Urbanetic haulers to intelligently, dynamically adjust to the needs of the entire society as a whole. Need to move a million people from their homes to work?
The fleet responds and dynamically loads up people-mover pods and gets to work. Rush hour is over and it’s time for the morning coffee rush. Just-in-time cargo haulers are mounted onto the autonomous platform, delivering fresh roasted coffee and all the trimmings to offices around the city.
The flexibility of the concept continues unabated as the autonomous nature of the platform slashes the cost of cargo hauling, enabling much smaller shipments to not only be cost effective, but to arrive exactly when their contents are needed instead of shipping 10x as much as is needed to save on shipping costs.
Transit hauling capacities could similarly be reduced as smaller, autonomous, electric shuttles could intelligently sort out which passengers made the most sense to pick up together based on their starting and ending points, drastically improving platform utilization at the same time as it slashes congestion. Carrying 12 passengers in a single vehicle filled with not just its full capacity, but filled with the right passengers, traveling at the optimal speed at the lowest cost with a perfect safety record would make transit not just the smart option, but the only option as the cost of operation would blow private vehicles out of the picture for all but the wealthiest of drivers.
Its zero emission electric powertrain allows the Urbanetic to get into any neighborhood or city, regardless of clean air restrictions.
The Mercedes-Benz Urbanetic concept shows that Daimler still has the ability to innovate — or at least dream into the future in meaningful ways. By all appearances, the Urbanetic paints a picture of a poetic future. The utopian future we’ve all seen and imagined in science fiction movies and books for decades is a few steps closer to reality because of this concept, and it’s hard to deny the allure of the solution.
Mercedes-Benz has the cargo chops and the luxury people-mover chops to make this bold vision of the future that could be into a reality. Dreaming is the first part of the equation and this dream has many components of the future I would love to be apart of. The second part is the one we’ve seen most companies hit the brick wall with — will Daimler take this concept off of the drawing board and into its dealerships?
This could be the visionary push that Daimler needed to truly embrace the Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric future. It’s exciting and compelling to me. Urbanetic solves the problem of lower cost autonomous people and cargo movement. It has the potential to drive a step change improvement in passenger and cargo safety. Just shrinking down the size of cargo haulers on the road would drive a significant improvement in safety and with a capacity of 10 EPAL pallets, Urbanetic certainly does that, without getting into all of the what-ifs related to the autonomous and active safety features.
These features are underpinned by an intelligent IT solution that not only dynamically assesses needs, but bases its solutions on real-time regional demand that allow the Urbanetic to optimize routes and to create transportation solutions based on the most efficient solution for the entire fleet. Stretching these learnings out over more and more days and weeks, the solution will learn habitual behavior and dynamically adapt its settings to best meet the needs of the system.
Support CleanTechnica’s work by becoming a Member, Supporter, or Ambassador.
Or you can buy a cool t-shirt, cup, baby outfit, bag, or hoodie or make a one-time donation on PayPal.</span>
Share this post if you enjoyed! 🙂