Written by IEEE | January 8, 2017 | Updated: April 3, 2017
When people talk about Mercedes and its semi-autonomous fleet, they’re usually pointing at the consumer-focused S-Class, but at CES 2017, the German auto giant unveiled its newest take on autonomy with a van that’s outfitted with drones.
The Vision Van is designed as a solution for the e-commerce delivery industry. As Daimler puts it, the vans represent “the delivery sector of the future: driving, flying, thinking.”
The beauty of the Vision Van lies in the details. It’s not focused on long-haul drone delivery; the van is engineered to manage “last-mile” delivery in city settings.
While drone-based delivery may be ready for use on a local level, Daimler does point out that other elements of the process chain will also eventually require automation.
The Vision Van system is a data collection center in itself, recording things like addresses, package dimensions, and delivery windows. The back-end helps calculate the balance of drone automation and human intervention. Factors like whether or not the delivery address has a drone landing station can impact that balance.
Drone-based delivery isn’t just about convenience. It’s also a matter safety for the driver and the drone. The Vision Van is equipped with LEDs that signal when it’s safe to exit the vehicle for a manual delivery, and the drones only operate along pre-calculated routes that take into account regulations like “no-fly” zones.
The Vision Van represents an important pivot in the autonomous conversation, looking more closely at the relationship between human and machine.
How Millennial Parents are Embracing Health and Wellness Technologies for Their Generation Alpha Kids
See how millennial parents around the world see AI impacting the lives of their tech-infused offspring
Take the journey from farm to table and learn how IoT will help us reach the rising demand for food production
Explore how researchers, teachers, explorers, healthcare and medical professionals use immersive technologies