Autonomous vehicle platform revealed with two interchangeable bodies

The Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic is a conceptual self-driving vehicle platform, which supports interchangeable people carrier and cargo lugging modules.

Although it looks quite small in the supplied photos, the Urbanetic is actually rather large, measuring up to 5.14 metres from head to tail. The two bodies seem to be at least two metres tall.

Fitted with a people mover body, the Vision Urbanetic can hold up to 12 people, and is envisaged for use in ride-sharing applications. There’s one access door, eight seats, and standing room up the front for up to four people.

Thanks to its striking design, this Urbanetic body has plenty of supposedly tourist-friendly windows towards the front, while the rear offers riders more privacy. A 360-degree display in the ceiling provides basic route details, while augmented reality projectors throughout the cabin offer sightseeing information and destination suggestions.

Meanwhile, the cargo carrying unit has a load area that’s 3.7 metres long, with overall space rated at around 10,000 cubic metres.

Mercedes-Benz says the cargo body can be configured to have either one or two storage levels, and can accommodate up to 10 EPAL pallets. This body features a rotating rear door, and cargo can be loaded automatically or by hand.

The Urbanetic rides on an autonomous skateboard chassis, although the company hasn’t provided any details about its power or range.

To change bodies, the Urbanetic drives itself to a changing platform where it sits on hydraulic supports built into the road surface. The rear wheels are then disengaged and moved outwards slightly, allowing the body to be disconnected and lifted off the chassis.

A track system then moves the body away from the Urbanetic’s chassis. The process is then done in reverse for the body that’s going to be fitted to the car. All up removing one body and fitting another should take only a “few minutes”.