Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic Autonomous Van Started as a Comic

When designers at Mercedes-Benz set out to create an autonomous vehicle flexible enough to toggle between carrying cargo and people, they envisioned a typical day in the life of the truck.

The first step was developing a storyboard that chronicled the various functions the truck would use during a 24-hour period.

They sketched it like a comic book, telling the story of its double identities – a people mover and a cargo hauler – and the different routes it followed inside the small utopian community where it lived.

Designers even mapped one scenario where residents could opt to have the autonomous drive unit walk the family dog, said Kai Sieber, head of design for Mercedes-Benz trucks and vans and its Smart mini car division.

The German automaker displayed its multipurpose concept, dubbed the Vision Urbanetic, at the IAACommercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, Germany last week.

The final design has a self-driving, electric chassis with modular capability. One module can be placed on the chassis to create a ride-sharing vehicle for up to 12 people. That can be swapped out for a cargo module that can haul goods.

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