Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic concept aims to haul people and goods more efficiently

Mercedes-Benz is the latest to tackle the future of transportation with this rather strange-looking concept vehicle. The company debuted the Vision Urbanetic concept on Monday. The concept’s goal? It hails from the a Mercedes-Benz Van division, and it’s meant to haul people and goods in the most efficient manner possible.

Foremost, the Vision Urbanetic is a self-driving vehicle with an electric powertrain. The company didn’t discuss its range, charging technology or self-driving system, but said the vehicle features an embedded “self-learning IT infrastructure for the continual analysis of transportation needs.” With its flexibility, Mercedes-Benz believes the Vision Urbanetic can take more vehicles off the road to free up inner-city streets as it performs double duty.

In plain speak, the self-driving pod can calculate where it’s needed most by relaying data and reacting to surges. For example, Mercedes-Benz said the vehicle and the control center can communicate to identify a group of people waiting for rides after an event lets out. The control center can then send more vehicles to the area to meet an increased demand. The company said its ride-sharing body will fit 12 passengers.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic

Mercedes-Benz recognizes the skepticism surrounding self-driving cars and noted the vehicle has multiple cameras and sensors to create a transparent environment to show how the Vision Urbanetic communicates with the environment. At the vehicle’s front sits a large display to inform pedestrians the people mover has identified them and that it’s safe to cross.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic

When the Vision Urbanetic isn’t transporting people, it can take an entirely different shape—literally. The concept features a second body module for transporting goods, which the van can shift to in a few minutes. Mercedes-Benz didn’t explain how, but the vehicle can shift the modules automatically or manually to meet an operator’s needs on the go. When it’s hauling goods, the Vision Urbanetic will fit up to 10 EPAL pallets and up to 350 cubic feet of cargo. The van can also be outfitted with a mobile package station for last-mile deliveries.

Attendees of the Frankfurt motor show will be able to get a closer look at the concept van when the show opens on September 20.

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