adVANce. “The transportation of goods and people has always been vital to global economic development. With digitisation and the Internet of Things we are currently once again experiencing an industrial and economic revolution”, underlines Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “In an era of booming online commerce, the interplay of transport and digitisation plays a vital role. Intelligent connectivity makes new services possible, enhances convenience and flexibility for the end customer and boosts efficiency in delivery operations.”
Mercedes-Benz Vision Van – Exterior;[/caption] This form of intelligent communication continues inside the vehicle. The Vision Van provides its driver with all relevant information, such as speed, route planning information or drone flight details, via the dashboard, which takes the form of a broadly sweeping arc covered with a premium textile. The Vision Van also provides information to the parcel deliverer via the floor. The driver is also continuously provided with information relating to manual delivery operations by means of a smartwatch. The watch shows him various data, such as the delivery address, input codes for electronic locking systems and, if necessary, secure places in which the consignment concerned can be deposited. New possibilities also arise for end customers. They benefit from reliable new delivery options, such as same-day delivery and time-definite delivery. End customers are additionally able to adapt deliveries to their needs, rescheduling the delivery time when their plans for the day change, for example. On the fringe of CES: the van as a mothership for autonomous robots Under the banner “Vans and Robots” Mercedes-Benz Vans presents a further pioneering project for the delivery of goods on the fringe of CES. In cooperation with Starship Technologies, an innovative delivery robot start-up, Mercedes-Benz Vans is transforming the van into a mobile goods depot and a distribution centre for automated last-mile delivery systems. The van becomes the basis of a new type of delivery system combining a high range with low infrastructure costs. This solution is based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, incorporating a racking system which operates according to the first-in first-out principle. The rack is loaded with a total of 54 load carriers for eight Starship robots. An algorithm calculates a route for the van with optimised stops for unloading individual robots and for collecting empty robots. The robots are loaded at predefined stops. The long-term vision of this concept, which also goes by the name of “Mothership”, is an autonomous robot fleet which coordinates and optimises its routes autonomously with vans from Mercedes-Benz and which is loaded automatically. Cooperation with Starship Technologies is to be stepped up in pursuit of this vision and the project is continued. adVANce: new culture, new ways of working The cooperation with Starship is also indicative of new ways of working and a new corporate culture which Mercedes-Benz Vans has established under the adVANce initiative. While the strategy continues to focus on the product, the latter becomes a platform for connected solutions and an integrated system for innovative transport concepts. The aim is to generate added value for customers and to develop holistic solutions for transport purposes. The new modus operandi adopted by Mercedes-Benz Vans also includes collaborating closely with start-ups – such as Starship Technologies. Another prominent example is the cooperation with the innovative delivery drone start-up Matternet, which is based in Menlo Park, California. In addition to their collaboration on the Vision Van, other joint undertakings by the two companies include a pilot project testing the use of vans as landing platforms for drones in locations which are difficult to access.