The new autonomous Mercedes-Benz Vision URBANETIC is the most recent concept addition to the autonomous electric vehicle line. However, will it be able compete with other concepts like the Toyota e-Palette and Volkswagen’s Sedric?
We all know that humanity will eventually have a more automated society.
Kroger made a big move adopting the Nuro robot cars for last-mile deliveries. But car companies want to get ahead of the automation game, too. Of course, they may not so much be “getting ahead” as being late to the party.
Despite the delay, many car industry heavyweights such as Toyota debuted their own concept cars — usually electric and autonomous — for a variety of uses.
What does luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz add with their new Vision URBANETIC?
Futuristic, One-Size-Fits-All Autonomy
Though TechCrunch described the car as “fugly“, they also called it flexible (rightly so).
Announced in September, the Mercedes-Benz Vision URBANETIC offers zero local emissions. Like its competitors, it features a battery-electric drive for a “virtually noiseless” ride. But its modular versatility shines more than its environmentally conscious factors.
As described on their website, the Vision URBANETIC can be fitted with “people-mover modules” in times of great traffic congestion. But it can also be used as a delivery vehicle for quieter locations.
It has space for up to twelve people and can transport ten or fewer EPAL palettes on one or two levels. It just depends on how you configure the autonomous driving platform.
The vehicle also features a self-learning infrastructure to offer real-time route adaption to traffic based on the user’s or customer’s needs.
A Small, but Effective Solution to Fleet Vehicles
It isn’t quite a magic school bus, but the Volkswagen Sedric offers an all-electric, autonomous experience for up to four passengers.
This micro-bus debuted in 2017 as a concept and hasn’t much moved beyond that. However, it competes directly with GM and Ford who have their own ideas about future autonomous fleet services.
The Sedric — “SElf-DRIving Car” — is a cross-band concept which means that the Volkswagen Group will own it instead of a consumer or brand. This is similar to the way many car companies approach future cars.
We wrote about how modern car dealerships might have to change if they want to survive. This approach to “autonomous fleets” and car subscription services is one of them, too.
Toyota e-Palette Offers Flexibility and Brand Legacy
CES 2018 brought us many gadgets, gizmos, and concepts including the e-Palette.
Like both the Vision URBANETIC and the Sedric, it functions as an electric-autonomous vehicle and can do many things. But it varies from its rivals in that it offers unique solutions direct from the Toyota president himself, Akio Toyoda.
While it’s unclear when these might come to fruition, high profile companies got in early with the gargantuan Japanese carmaker. Mazda, Pizza Hut, Uber, Amazon, and Didi Chuxing all plan to work on the project for a projected debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The concept will hopefully come in three sizes varying in length from four to seven meters. You can tailor it to your specific needs, adjusting mobility, accessibility, and applications.
Like the other the Vision URBANETIC, it can transport cargo or people. Maybe soon, your Pizza Hut will no longer come from a person driving their own car, but an autonomous delivery robot car. One can dream.