German vehicle giant Mercedes has recently used an event at its Van Innovation Campus in Stuttgart, Germany, as an opportunity to showcase its plans to change the way we look at driving vans.

Join van hire and leasing specialists Northgate as they analyse just how the manufacturer could be shaping the future of this popular sector of the motoring industry:

Introducing the Mercedes Vision Van

The Mercedes Vision Van is a concept commercial vehicle from the German manufacturer that stands out for being electronically powered, fully-automated and interconnected.

All of this power is achieved via a 75kW electric drive system, though up to 150kW of power can be attained 60-second stints. This system is also capable of producing 270Nm of torque, a range of up to 270km and a top speed of 120km/h — though the latter has been limited to 80km/h.

Getting to grips with all of this power will be a unique experience, considering the fact that the Mercedes Vision van makes use of a joystick control system as opposed to a traditional steering wheel.

Summing up the appeal of the Vision Van, Mercedes-Benz stated: “With the Vision Van, Mercedes-Benz vans presents a revolutionary van concept for urban areas. The vehicle as a holistic system integrates numerous innovative technologies for final-stage delivery and thus sets the performance standards and solutions for future van generations.”

Here’s a look at some of the most innovative technologies in more detail:

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An LED-integrated radiator grille

One of the first things you are bound to notice about the Mercedes Vision Van is its Black Panel radiator grille, due to the fact that it features an integrated LED matrix.

With this technology in place, the Vision Van is able to easily send information to its environment. This information can include details of when the vehicle has come to a stop, when the deliverer has alighted and when the van’s delivery drones have taken off.

Delivery drones

You didn’t read that last sentence incorrectly — the Mercedes Vision Van is looking to make use of delivery drones as part of its service.

The development has been the result of a partnership between Mercedes and world-class flying vehicles and intelligent control software manufacturer Matternet.

So how does the system work? It’s quite simple in effect:

  1. To begin with, items are ordered via an app.
  2. A retail store sends a drone to dispatch the product.
  3. Technology that is constructed into the Vision Van’s roof enables the drones to quickly locate the van and then land on top of the vehicle in a safe manner.
  4. The customer who ordered the product can then collect it.

With the drones having a 20km radius and the capability to carry items up to 20kg in weight at up to 60km/h, deliveries to the van could be completed in less than 20 minutes. This solution will be particularly useful in urban areas, where severe traffic regularly delays deliveries.

Delivery robots

It is not just the use of drones that is looking to advance deliveries in the setup of the Mercedes Vision Van though — the vehicle also has built-in robots.

These gadgets, which have been constructed thanks to work between Mercedes and Starship Technologies, can be used by the driver in order to dispatch parcels directly to a customer without the need to leave their commercial vehicle unattended.

Again, the system at work is an easy one to get your head around:

  1. The driver of the Mercedes Vision Van parks the vehicle in a designated area, deemed a ‘hub’.
  2. The van’s robots leave the vehicle and travel autonomously to a customer’s property, while avoiding pedestrians thanks to their built-in sensors. Customers can also be kept updated about how far their delivery is away via a compatible app.
  3. After a delivery has been successfully completed, the robot will make its way back to its Mercedes Vision Van and await collection by the driver.

Each robot is being manufactured with the ability to operate within a two-mile radius and can carry items up to 10kg in weight.

 

Keep an eye on the official Mercedes Vision Van for updates on the potentially game-changing commercial vehicle ahead of its proposed release in 2020.