Mercedes-Benz is known for its transit vans across the world but for the first time at this year’s CES an exhibit takes the humble courier van to a whole new level. Known as the “Vision Van” it serves as a mothership when it comes to the transportation of goods. It was revealed to the public back in September but EFTM had the chance to get up close and personal with yet another concept straight out of Silicon Valley.
The ideas behind the van are designed to capitalise on the booming era of online commerce. The Vison Van links transport and digitalisation like never before. It serves as the basis for a connected chain from a distribution depot right through to the consignee. The load compartment is automated and on the roof are a couple of drones that are designed for air deliveries.
The Vision Van is powered by a 75 kW electric drive system with a range up to 270 km, obviously it’s emission-free and silent.
Being an autonomous van, as you’d imagine a host of intelligent communication goodies are included. It communicates with other road uses via the “Black Panel” radiator grille with LED matrix plus an LED display also integrated into the rear-end. The array of lights pumps out messages that warn other road users when it’s stopping, turning or releasing drones.
The driver doesn’t miss out on the tech, he scores a smartwatch that shows various data, such as delivery address and much more.
The next step in the reinvention of the van falls under the banner of “Vans and Robots”. Starship Technologies is providing the know-how to transform the van into a mobile goods depot and distribution system for last-mile deliveries. Based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, an innovative racking system is loaded with up to 54 load carriers for eight Starship robots. Algorithms calculate the most efficient route for the van, unloading robots and collecting empty robots along the way.
So one day either a robot or drone will come knocking on the door then scoot back to the mothership van. The times are more than “A-Changin”, they’re becoming mind-blowing.