Interchangeable bodies: From spacious goods transporter to comfortable people-mover

Sep 10, 2018
  • Easy swap: Bodies can be switched fully automatically or manually
  • Innovative technology: Rear wheels that deploy sideways facilitate changeover between cargo and people-mover modules
  • Flexible reaction: Vision URBANETIC fleet can adapt dynamically to actual demand throughout the day

Goods transport or people moving? Thanks to its interchangeable bodies, the function of the Vision URBANETIC can be changed in a few minutes. The choices on offer are a cargo module, offering maximum efficiency and flexibility for goods transport, and a people-mover module, delivering first-class comfort and on-demand mobility.

Skateboard chassis drives autonomously to changeover platform

The basis for the changeover concept is provided by the self-driving skateboard chassis, which incorporates all the driving functions. Engineers at Mercedes-Benz Vans have developed a new system to facilitate the swap. The Vision URBANETIC drives to a changeover platform. Before the body is disconnected, hydraulically controlled supports on the road surface ensure the vehicle is stable before lifting it slightly. The rear wheels disengage and move outward, enabling removal of the body without any additional lifting equipment. Widening the rear track clears the way for the interchangeable body to glide backwards on a track system. This all happens completely automatically and takes just a few minutes. Thanks to the track system, the interchangeable body can also be moved manually on the pallet without any additional infrastructure. The chassis is then fitted with a new module.

Cargo module – two-level load space

The cargo module has ample space for ten EPAL cage pallets, facilitated by the Cargo Flex Floor. This load surface divides the space into two levels.

If maximum height is required in the load space, the dividing floor can be folded to the side. The volume of the load space is 10 m3, while its length of 3.70 metres is accommodated in a total vehicle length of 5.14 metres. The cargo module is filled with pre-loaded standard containers or load carriers via the rotating rear door – fully automatically or manually.

People-mover module – first-class comfort, innovative communication

The people-mover module offers space and ample comfort for a total of twelve people – eight seated and four standing. The rear section is a protected space that accommodates passengers with a cocooning effect. They cannot be seen from outside and can enjoy their privacy. The central area close to the door is reserved for standing passengers making short trips. The front section is open plan and surrounded by window elements. Tourists sitting here, for instance, can enjoy views of the city.

The people mover also offers its passengers a new dimension in communication. The 360-degree halo display in the ceiling, for example, shows basic information on the route. Augmented-reality projectors can provide passengers with route-guidance suggestions for other destinations in the city based on predefined parameters and taking into account the existing user profile. For instance, the system offers the fastest route for commuters, the most inexpensive route for cost optimisation or a varied sightseeing route.

Both modules offer countless design options. The absence of a driver’s seat means the vehicle footprint can be optimised for the respective use case. Furthermore, thanks to the interchangeable bodies, the Vision URBANETIC fleet can react flexibly throughout the day to actual needs and adapt to peak demand.