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We take a ride in the Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic Concept on the Las Vegas strip

Mercedes' autonomous concept has interchangeable modules that can haul people or cargo, and we hop onboard for a ride at CES 2019.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic
Mercedes-Benz

CES is always chock-full of electric and autonomous vehicles promising to save the future of transportation, but those concepts are designed to move either people or goods, not both. Mercedes-Benz has solved that problem with its Vision Urbanetic concept, and we got a super sweet ride in it on the Las Vegas Strip in the middle of the night.

The platform-like chassis of the Urbanetic runs off batteries and can operate autonomously. Interchangeable modules are then placed on top, depending on what needs to be hauled around. The people-mover module has room for 12, with plenty of windows and a large panoramic moonroof surrounded by an LED light display. Seats are arranged in a circle, with two-level seating in the back of the pod. I didn't get to see the cargo module, but Mercedes-Benz claims it has 353 cubic feet of space and has room for 10 pallets.

rs-ces2019-mercedes-urbanetic-holdingstill
Watch this: CES 2019: We take a ride in the Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic concept

The Urbanetic is connected to real-time traffic reports and can also monitor local events and send a fleet out to a location, say a stadium after a concert, in anticipation of increased demand. It can communicate with people outside of the pod through displays on the front and sides. The Urbanetic "sees" pedestrians before they even step off the curb.

Modules can be swapped out in a few minutes, so aside from charging time, the Urbanetic can be on duty day and night. With people's penchant for internet shopping these days, the Urbanetic would be an excellent solution to last-mile delivery. With room for 12 people, commuting might just be made a bit easier, as well.

Mercedes-Benz says this is just a study in electric, autonomous transportation solutions and has no plans to bring the Urbanetic to market. That said, the idea of using interchangeable modules on an autonomous platform is an intriguing way to get maximum efficiency out of one vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic Concept hits the Las Vegas Strip at CES 2019

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Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.

Article updated on January 8, 2019 at 11:39 AM PST

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Emme Hall
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img-4356-2
Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
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