Mercedes-Benz Vision Autonomous Drone-Launching Delivery Vans
Mercedes-Benz has always been among the leading innovators when it comes to incorporating technology into its vehicles. Every year, the company files hundreds, if not thousands, of patents for technology it is developing with the intent of incorporating it, or something similar, into vehicles of the future. The company’s history of innovation dates back to its birth, producing the first patented self-propelled automobile. More recently, the latest E-Class incorporates Drive Pilot, a semi-autonomous driving system.
Making Cargo Vans Interesting
While most people see Mercedes-Benz for the high luxury sedans and sports coupes it is famed for, there is another, less-publicized side to the company – commercial vehicles aimed at improving logistics. These may not be the most interesting vehicles to the general public, but to Mercedes-Benz, they are fantastic platforms for innovation. After all, it’s a lot harder to make a delivery van interesting than it is to make a 400-horsepower sport coupe interesting.
Mercedes-Benz loves a challenge though. In the past, vehicles such as the Arocs heavy-duty construction industry vehicles, the Actros long-distance transporters, and the Sprinter panel van have all been developed and innovated to solve logistical problems. The Sprinter family itself has gone on to be one of the most relied-upon delivery vans in the world, and led Mercedes-Benz to develop its van line-up even further, with the Vito and Citan vans. It is this familiarity with cargo vehicles that helped to lead to the latest innovation.
A New Vision
Unveiled in September, the Vision delivery van concept is an autonomous, drone-launching delivery van that Mercedes-Benz feels represents the future of urban delivery and logistics. While the look is stunningly futuristic, it is what is inside that is truly revolutionary.
- A 100-horsepower battery-electric vehicle with a 170-mile range that is perfect for cities and large towns with numerous small delivery stops.
- Automatic driving based on a pre-programmed delivery route.
- Logistical information display on the dashboard that highlights drone routing, route planning, and more.
- Robotic smart racks that slide in and out of the vehicle, so they can be pre-loaded and switched in and out of the van quickly at the shipping depot, reducing downtime.
- Automatic rooftop delivery drones that can increase delivery capabilities – instead of one driver making the deliveries in person, the driver can perform deliveries while the drones are also making deliveries themselves. They can also help deliver into congested areas that the van may not be able to venture into.
- A robot loader that maneuvers racks to be positioned at a pass-through so the delivery driver does not have search through the cargo at each stop.
Most importantly, Mercedes-Benz looks at this not necessarily as a partially-networked logistical system, but as a fully-functioning integrated system. The Vision concept is more than just the van, it is also about storage and delivery systems that Mercedes-Benz looks to not just sell, but also rent or lease. It’s not solely about innovating for a vehicle – it’s about evolving the entire idea of logistics and delivery.
Nearsighted or Farsighted?
In reality, the Vision Van concept may be quite a bit off in terms of actually appearing on the Daytona streets. The likelihood in the next decade looks slim, but it may not be much further off then that. But while full implementation may be so far off, some of the process and technology implemented in the concept could see usage much sooner. Modular cargo holding systems, battery-electric vehicles – these are not that far away from being part of everyday logistics.
Here at Mercedes-Benz of Daytona, we love the fact that the company we represent is always working towards the future, evolving and innovating. We know that this means every new year of vehicles may bring another new piece of technology integrated into the vehicles we sell, another new system to learn for an improved entertainment experience, or the latest in performance advancements. So stop in and talk to us, not just about what Mercedes-Benz has done in the past, or is providing now, but also what they are working towards in the future.