Mercedes is reportedly pouring $562 million into delivery van drones — here’s a glimpse of what’s to come

Author

Danielle Muoio

March 8, 2017

mercedes drone van

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is getting into package deliveries.

In September, the Mercedes announced a “multimillion” investment in drone startup Matternet, the creator of an autonomous drone. The Wall Street Journal reported that the investment totals €500 million ($562 million) over the next 5 years.

Mercedes unveiled a self-driving van concept to showcase its vision for a futuristic drone delivery service. The German automaker isn’t the only one exploring the drone delivery van service — UPS recently unveiled a hybrid truck with a drone nest built into the roof. The nest would house a Workhorse HorseFly autonomous drone that could carry 10 pounds worth of packages.

Scroll down for Mercedes’ package delivery vision:

Meet the Mercedes Vision Van: an all-electric van with a range up to 168 miles.

The trunk is capable of supporting a “one-shot loading” system to get packages in the trunk and out to customers faster. 

Mercedes

The interior of the van has a fully automated cargo space. It features a mechanical shelving system that loads packages and knows where each package is going. The driver will get a notification when approaching a drop-off location for a package. 

Mercedes-Benz

A drone will accompany the van by sitting on a landing station on top. When the van approaches a drop-off location, the shelving system will push the package to the drone so it can be flown to its final location.

 

Mercedes-Benz

Here’s a better look at how the drone would receive the package.

Matternet’s autonomous drone, the Matternet M2 drone, can travel 12 miles on a single charge.

 

Mercedes-Benz

Although the drone would aid in package delivery, Mercedes still sees the driver playing a role as well. The Vision Van has a specialized compartment where the driver can grab packages without going to the back of the vehicle.

Mercedes

Mercedes is developing a telematics unit for the van that can relay the status of a package to the distribution manager so last-minute delivery changes can be made easily. 

Mercedes-Benz

Andreas Raptopoulous, the founder and CEO of Matternet, told Business Insider’s Ariel Schwartz that he could see the delivery system working in tandem with a company like Amazon. A customer could order something off Amazon and elect to have it delivered by a nearby Vision Van, he said.

 

Mercedes-Benz

Source: Business Insider

There’s no timeline for when we can see the van-and-drone system in action, but Raptopoulous said it could be another several months or year before testing is completed.

 

Mercedes-Benz

 

 

This article was written by Danielle Muoio from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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