Mercedes-Benz has unveiled plans to create a delivery van that combines electric, driverless, and drone technology in a single vehicle.
The Vision Van has an autonomous cargo space and two roof-mounted drones that can deliver parcels to customers’ doors.
According to Mercedes, an algorithm will be used to power and control the whole system, deciding on how the packages are loaded, the order in which they are delivered, and the route for both the van and the drones.
The cargo system automatically grabs each package and presents it to the delivery driver to hand over to the customer, or it raises a parcel to the roof of the van and attaches it to one of the drones for autonomous delivery from the air.
The van can drive itself but a built-in joystick inside the cabin allows a human driver to have as much control as they need over braking, accelerating and steering.
Even the van’s grille embraces technology. It comes with an integrated LED matrix that displays alert messages to pedestrians and other people outside the vehicle.
The technology is something Mercedes has explored before, having shown off a driverless concept car with the same set-up at CES in 2015.