Mercedes-Benz’s van of the future is self-driving, modular, and crazy-looking

September 11, 2018

If Mercedes-Benz is to be believed, the urban van of the future will be modular, self-driving, and if we’re honest, pretty ugly.

The German giant unveiled its new Vision Urbanetic concept on Monday from the van division, and it merges autonomy with the ability to haul plenty of people or stuff depending on the transportation needs of any given moment, effectively cutting the number of vans needed by half.

MORE: Few automakers reported on self-driving car safety to White House

According to MErcedes, the Vision Urbanetic concept can accommodate up to 12 passengers in its egg-like pod, while the boxier cargo pod offers 353 cubic feet of interior volume. Most importantly, though, the concept is self-driving and incorporates learning technology that analyzes supply and demand within a defined area in real time.

The idea behind making a modular van is so that each platform can ideally serve double duty, swapping out passenger and cargo pods as needed and effectively reducing the number of necessary vehicles in a fleet by half.

Oh, and did we mention there’s no steering wheel, pedals, dashboard, or cockpit at all? By the time this vehicle would be introduced, Mercedes claims all those common features will be “things of the past,” and that the “space can instead be used for additional passengers or higher goods volume.”

There’s no word on how exactly the concept would switch between modules, but if it can drive itself, we can assume that process would be automated as well. The wacky-looking van made an official debut in Copenhagen, but will also appear at the Frankfurt truck show in Germany later this month.

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