Airborne drones inside the van can deploy for delivering multiple packages at once to a neighborhood.

Mercedes-Benz wants commercial vehicles to keep up with the consumer models’ rapid technological innovations, and the company is launching a $562.3-million (500-million euro) initiative called adVANce to make sure that development happens. The German automaker’s new Vision Van points the way towards this future by presenting an EV that imagines the next step in parcel deliveries.

The Vision Van is reminiscent of Mercedes’ Vision Tokyo concept but with a more realistic appearance. The vehicle features a wrap-around windshield, which maximizes frontal visibility. However as a model of the future, the company’s designers eschew glass on the side or rear. The decision lets the creators mold a lozenge-like shape that looks like it would slide through the air. The next-gen Sprinter is already under development, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see this vehicle’s smoother contours on the new model.

Beyond looking futuristic, the Vision Van packs a bevy of next-gen tech that could make deliveries a lot easier. For example, there are airborne drones, which deploy from inside, that can take packages short distances to their destination. This allows one vehicle to make give people multiple parcels simultaneously.

Even when not using the drones, the Vision Van could get you that latest order from Amazon a little quicker because the interior has an intelligent cargo space. Rather than needing to rearrange parcels, the system tells drivers exactly where the right package is for that delivery. Mercedes estimates this could save up to four minutes per stop, which would quickly add up over the course of the day.

Mercedes imagines the Vision Van of having an adaptable electric powertrain depending on what a delivery service needs. In the maximum configuration, it would produce 101 horsepower (75 kilowatts) and have a range of 168 miles (270 kilometers). However, a company could spec it with a little as 50 miles (80 km) of driving distance, if that would work better for the firm’s business.

The adVANce initiative aims to make the Vision Van’s futuristic tech into a production reality over the next five years. Mercedes will put this work under a new unit called Future Transportation Systems. Around 200 employees researching digitalization, automation and robotics will work out of offices in Stuttgart, Germany, and Silicon Valley, California.


Source: Mercedes-Benz

Live photos: Steven Ewing /

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