Mercedes-Benz’s Vision URBANETIC concept might look striking, but the riot of bodywork like splashes and stripes hides a very sensible idea. Designed by Mercedes-Benz Vans, the idea is to make autonomous, zero-emission vehicles more flexible. To do that, the URBANETIC goes modular.
The core of the vehicle is an electric-powered chassis, like a sled. That handles all the steering, braking, and acceleration, not to mention the navigation. With a real-time connection to the cloud, fleet managers could dispatch different electric sleds to different locations.
Atop them would be various different body styles, depending on purpose. The Vision URBANETIC could be a passenger vehicle, like a self-driving taxi, or it might be focused solely on cargo. Either way, you’d have less downtime because you could switch the upper section onto whichever sled underbody was charged and ready to go.