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Drones, robots…and Mercedes?


With the unveiling of its Vision Van at its Van Innovation Campus in Stuttgart, Germany, Mercedes has showcased how robots and drones could soon be used more effectively for delivery tasks.

Van hire and leasing specialist Northgate has looked at how the enhancements would work:

The Mercedes Vision Van’s delivery drones

Mercedes has teamed up with world-class flying vehicles and intelligent control software manufacturer Matternet to develop state-of-the-art delivery drones for its Vision Van.

Each drone from the German manufacturer can complete deliveries within a 20km radius of the van, as well as being able to carry items up to 20kg in weight at a speed of up to 60km/h. As a result, a successful delivery could be completed in no more than 20 minutes —ideal in urban areas where deliveries are often delayed due to high levels of traffic.

The process behind the Mercedes Vision Van’s delivery drones are as follows:

  1. Items are ordered by a customer via an app.
  2. A drone will be sent by the corresponding retail store to dispatch the items.
  3. Technology built into the roof of a Mercedes Vision Van will allow a drone to quickly find the van and then safely land on top of the vehicle.
  4. The customer can then head to the van and collect the items they ordered.

The Mercedes Vision Van’s delivery robots

As well as welcoming drones onto its roof, the Mercedes Vision Van will also be home to a series of built-in robots.

The robots are being developed thanks to a collaboration between Mercedes and Starship Technologies, with each being able to operate within a two-mile radius and having the capability to carry items weighing up to 10kg.

Here’s how the delivery robots will work:

  1. The Mercedes Vision Van driver parks their vehicle within a designated area — otherwise known as a ‘hub’.
  2. Robots housed inside the van will leave the vehicle and travel autonomously to a customer’s property. Built-in sensors mean that the robots will be able to avoid pedestrians, while a compatible app enables those waiting for an item to stay updated about where their delivery is.
  3. Following a successful delivery, the robots make they way back to their Mercedes Vision Van and await collection by the driver.

As a result, drivers will be able to dispatch items that they have for delivery without having to leave their commercial vehicle unattended.

To stay updated on the electronically powered, fully automated and interconnected Mercedes Vision Van, which is being pencilled in for a 2020 release, head to their official page on the Mercedes-Benz website.

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