Mercedes-Benz has a very strong van portfolio outside the US. It's built a name for itself in logistics, and now, it's showcasing the next generation of cargo vans with the Vision Van. It's only a concept, but hot diggity, how I wish it were coming to production like this.
The Vision Van is, of course, electric, with a battery good for about 168 miles, which is perfect for a day of last-mile deliveries. Its electric drivetrain means it won't be locked out of cities that ban gas-or-diesel-powered vehicles. There are also two drones strapped to the roof, which can deliver packages into more congested areas. LED lights on the van will signal when the drones are taking off, or when the vehicle is stopped for a delivery.
But the flashy bits on the outside hide the real meat and potatoes of the Vision Van. It's essentially a logistics center on wheels, loaded with tech to better facilitate deliveries. The van features a package dispenser, special robot-operated racking systems, and a computer terminal provides relevant information for the driver.
The Mercedes-Benz Vision Van is a peek into the future of last-mile deliverySee all photos
Speaking of the driver, his or her only goal appears to be handing packages to other people. There are no controls in the cabin, just LED lights and a dashboard covered with logistical information (drone flight data, route planning, etc.). The van will drive itself around in accordance with the pre-planned delivery route. Talk about an easy job. There is still a joystick, though, in case the driver needs to take control.
That's the future of logistics -- a complete minimization of the human element. No more rifling around the back of a truck to find a box, no more human error at all, really. It's almost like Mercedes-Benz is trying to get rid of the human entirely. Thankfully, there's still a role for us meatbags, since computers can't sign the dotted line and actually purchase the vans.