Daimler is looking to get ready for future urban transport – in any form. Their latest concept is double-sided, and not “just” autonomous and electric. The “Vision Urbanetic” can be transformed from minibus to delivery van in less than two minutes.
This versatility is made possible through an interchangeable chassis. Daimler calls the two versions “modules”, which either shape the electric and self-driving van into a rounded minibus sitting 12, or else a cargo carrier.
Clearly, the people-mover version is aiming at the growing market for ride-sharing dominated by the likes of Uber today. Yet also the cargo function seem serious enough. The delivery module can carry up to ten EPAL pallets and offers a load space of 10m3.
Daimler says their concept is designed for companies acting as both public transport and logistics operators and those wanting to use their electric vehicles more efficiently. For this, an integrated IT system will take over route management and similar functions. The engineers even imagine the self-driving cars to anticipate demand, i.e. waiting to pick up people from a concert or other mass events. A driver’s cabin is missing entirely, pointing to Daimler wanting full autonomy.
While the “Vision Urbanetic” may sound pretty visionary indeed, Daimler is prepared to publish a timeline for the roll-out of the connected electric vehicle concept at the upcoming IAA.
The idea to offer multi-purpose vehicles is not entirely new though. Swiss Rinspeed just set up their startup Snap Motion. They want to commercialise their concept consisting of a driving platform with the electric motor and battery, which is also called skateboard due to its flat design, and exchangeable cabins, called pods. The latter can transform the electric van into anything from passenger vehicle to a mobile doctor’s office (we reported).