UPDATE: Daimler Reveals Vision Urbanetic: A Wild Electric Autonomous Concept


They plan to make us pod people

***UPDATE: New video added below.

The future is a wonderful place. According to a concept of it revealed by Daimler in Copenhagen on Monday, it involves clean cities with the transport of people and products deftly handled by its Vision Urbanetic: a network of electric, autonomous module-fitted vehicles from Mercedes-Benz that can intuitively show up to quietly whisk you away.

It will take a while to reach this Utopian plane, but let’s take a look at these vehicle being proposed here in the meantime. The concept takes the “skateboard” idea to its extreme end. The basic platform, which is fully capable of driving around without a module attached to it, can either ferry as many as a dozen people in its spacious cabin with its people pod, or as many as 10 pallets when fitted with its products module.

It’s meant to be highly networked and even predictive, as it involves self-learning. For instance, it would be able to sense of a number of people congregated in a single place and dispatch vehicles to service them. It would know of traffic conditions and route vehicles to keep them on the quickest possible path.

Check out the video (above) for a quick overview of the concept or delve into the (somewhat lengthy) press blurb below if you’d like to get more in depth info about this proposed “Vision Urbanetic.” For our part, we’re mostly just glad they share our vision of an electric future, regardless of who is (or isn’t) driving.

Vision Urbanetic

17 photos


Vision URBANETIC: On demand, efficient and sustainable: Vision URBANETIC answers the questions of future urban mobility

  • Completely new mobility concept for on-demand, efficient, comfortable and sustainable mobility
  • Autonomous driving platform that can be fitted as required with a cargo module for goods transportation or with a people-mover module
  • Battery-electric drive for zero local emissions and virtually noiseless mobility
  • Mobility concepts embedded within an intelligent, self-learning IT infrastructure for the continual analysis of transportation needs
  • Supply and demand captured in real time and vehicle resources used to optimum effect
  • Maximum economy, efficiency and flexibility for cities, mobility providers and users 

Copenhagen – Today Mercedes-Benz Vans presents its Vision URBANETIC, a revolutionary mobility concept that goes way beyond existing ideas on autonomous vehicles. Vision URBANETIC eliminates the separation between people moving and goods transport. It enables on-demand, sustainable and efficient movement of people and goods – and applies an innovative approach to fulfil the needs of cities, businesses from diverse sectors as well as city dwellers and travellers. The concept reduces traffic flows, relieves inner-city infrastructures and contributes to an improved quality of urban life.

As part of a holistic system solution, Vision URBANETIC addresses future urban challenges and offers innovative solutions. The visionary concept is based on a self-driving, electrically powered chassis that can take different switchable bodies for people moving or goods transport. As a ride-sharing vehicle, Vision URBANETIC can accommodate up to twelve passengers, while the cargo module can carry up to ten EPAL pallets. A load space 3.70 metres long fits into a total vehicle length of 5.14 metres. Plus, the concept incorporates an IT infrastructure that analyses in real time the supply and demand within a defined area. The result is a self-driving fleet, with routes planned flexibly and efficiently on the basis of current transportation needs. All of this makes Vision URBANETIC a groundbreaking concept for future urban mobility.

Thanks to full networking, the evaluation of local information – such as concerts and events – and intelligent control, the system not only analyses current needs, it can also learn from them. It is thus able to anticipate and react to future needs. This can optimise processes and help shorten waiting and delivery times and avoid traffic jams. For instance, the overall system can use the data captured by the vehicle control centre – which collates and analyses needs – to identify a crowd of people gathering in a certain area. It can send vehicles there to quickly and efficiently satisfy the increased demand. The system can thus react flexibly and is not based on rigid routes or fixed timetables.

Fully networked and part of a comprehensive ecosystem

Mercedes-Benz Vans is pursuing an ambitious target with its Vision URBANETIC. It envisages transporting more people and goods with fewer vehicles on a virtually unchanged roads infrastructure in order to relieve inner cities and, at the same time, fulfil continually growing mobility requirements and customer desires. This would ultimately facilitate an improved quality of urban life – with flexible and comfortable movement of people, efficient and sustainable transportation of goods, significantly lower noise and pollutant emissions and greater freedom in city planning.

As a fully networked vehicle, Vision URBANETIC is part of an ecosystem in which commercial and private mobility wishes are transmitted digitally. Vision URBANETIC collates these needs and fulfils them with a highly flexible fleet, facilitating a considerable improvement in the use of resources.

Two interchangeable modules for people and goods

To achieve this level of flexibility, Vision URBANETIC is equipped with different interchangeable bodies depending on purpose of use. As a ride-sharing vehicle with a people-mover body, Vision URBANETIC offers space for up to twelve passengers. The modules are switched either automatically or manually, with the automated process taking just a few minutes. The system is based on an autonomous driving platform onto which the respective bodies are fixed. It incorporates all the driving functions, meaning the autonomous chassis can also make its way to its next job location without a body attached. Absolute safety is guaranteed by redundant components for all relevant actions such as steering, braking and acceleration.

The cargo module serves as a classic goods transporter. Thanks to its variable load floor, it can be divided into two levels and transport up to ten EPAL palettes. The load space has a volume of 10 m3. Alternatively, the vehicle can be fitted with fully automated cargo-space systems and used as a mobile package station for last-mile deliveries. Multiple further use cases are also conceivable as the concept can be equipped with a wide array of bodies for other sectors and applications.

Greater freedom for interior design

Thanks to fully automated driverless operation, operating costs fall significantly with Vision URBANETIC. Plus, with the exception of charging times for the battery-electric drive and maintenance periods, each vehicle can be in use around the clock, 365 days a year. It means, for example, profitable operation of local public transport solutions which would not be commercially viable with a driver. Likewise, the concept provides an answer to an ever-increasing demand in areas such as the logistics sector – a lack of drivers. Companies are already finding it extremely difficult or impossible to fill vacancies. In light of this, a German trade magazine voted “Fahrermangel” (lack of drivers) the 2017 Logistics Word of the Year.

The absence of a driver’s cab also frees up space for interior design. Steering wheel, pedals, dashboard and the entire cockpit are things of the past. The space can instead be used for additional passengers or a higher goods volume.

On a factory site or roaming freely in the city

The system architecture of the autonomous Vision URBANETIC ensures continual route adaptation using real-time traffic information. The operator’s fleet management is also part of the IT system, with usage conceivable in restricted areas such as a factory site or airport as well as in road traffic.

Vision URBANETIC’s electric drive delivers zero-local-emissions mobility, thus making it the perfect vehicle for city centres and areas subject to legal access restrictions. The virtually noiseless electric drive also presents new options for late or night-time deliveries and thus offers major commercial potential.

Establish trust through active communication with the outside world

Many people still view autonomous vehicles with the certain degree of scepticism. To address this, Vision URBANETIC adopts a new approach, particularly with its people-mover body. The vehicle uses multiple cameras and sensor systems to observe its surroundings in their entirety and communicates actively with them. It uses the large-format display on the front of the vehicle to inform pedestrians crossing the street in front of it that it has noticed them.

Another highlight is digital shadowing around the side door. Several hundred light units display the contours of approaching individuals along the flanks, signalling to them that the Vision URBANETIC has noticed them.

Source: Daimler

Categories: Daimler, Mercedes, Videos

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20 Comments on "UPDATE: Daimler Reveals Vision Urbanetic: A Wild Electric Autonomous Concept"

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F150 Brian

Autonomous driving mode is a double edge sword.
It’ll be great for when you’re tired and would rather sleep than drive.
It’ll be great for dropping you off at the front door and going … who cares… while you’re not using it.
It’ll be great for subscription services where you can order up whatever vehicle you want, wherever you are.

But it means the end of actual driving, which I quite enjoy. It means the end because to make the macro system (millions of autonomous vehicles in less space than is currently allocated to transportation) really work well, they need to take the unpredictable human element out of it.

I guess the good news is that this will take decades to transform and I’ll be too old to enjoy diving by then 😉


The analogy to horses is again very apt here…


Trivia: When cars were being introduced many horse riders were upset and said “But how am I going to get home reliably when I’m really drunk? My horse was able to handle that for me.”


Nice anecdote, but I’m not sure that anyone was really all that bothered by the idea of driving drunk 100 years ago. Or 40 years ago, for that matter 😉 Still, never let the truth get in the way of a good story, I always say!


Why do they always make nice electric cars with such ugly bodies?


Because they assume in the future with AP no one will own the cars anymore and you will just pay subscription. Do you care how the bus looks like when you get on?


Well, I don’t want a chicken coop strapped to the roof, so yeah, I guess I do.

John Doe

lol. Pepsi out the nose there 🙂


Ugly Vehicles like this make me wonder if the company is just trolling EVs to slow them down. WTF is that monstrosity?

Lee Ramer

Yep, regular people look at this and think another stupid EV thereby making them think EV’s are still way off.


I get it, concept vehicles need to look outlandish to garner attention… But seriously, WTF were they thinking, styling this like some sort of giant mutant bug abomination from a horror movie or computer game?! I literally cried out in disgust at the sight of it.


German car companies are making it so easy to be nationalist.


I rather like the artistic organic styling. Looks like what you get when you run some of the new Generative Design CAD tools for topology optimization of structures.


Imagine all those windows, interrupted with large bars, right in your line of sight. Like a chicken coop!


I’m holding out for thie below BMW POD on wheels, to pick me up and drop me off, when EVer and where EVer. Dalimer has been late to the EV game, and now they’re supposedly “Urbanetic” POD leaders?



On first glance, I thought it was a pregnant Chevy Bolt.


Ugly. As. Hell. Аnd it is intentional: Daimler does not want its traditional customers to migrate to EVs.


If the future is autonomous, why even design it with a front and back? Autonomous vehicle can work on with the network, as they claim, so pull in frontward and drive out backwards. Ever notice most trains look the same from the front and back? They can go either direction without turning around, same will become the way with autonomous vehicles I think.

Roy LeMeur

“Many people still view autonomous vehicles with the certain degree of scepticism.” Ya think? It’s gonna take a while.


It’s not about how it looks.

It’s about how it could work.