Mercedes-Benz and Matternet show off vans that launch delivery drones
The way small packages are delivered across short distances is set to change forever – at least that’s what Mercedes-Benz Vans and drone tech start-up Matternet would like you to believe. The collaboration between the two companies has come up with something exciting: The Vision Van.
The rooftop of the concept vehicle acts as a launch and landing pad for the new Matternet M2 drone.
The drones, completely autonomous, are capable of carrying a package of 4.4 pounds 12 miles on a single battery charge, applicable in real world conditions.
The M2’s can reload themselves with another payload and also change their own batteries without any human interference. The drones function in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz Vans on-board and cloud based systems, so that items inside the van are loaded onboard the drone, by way of a robotic shelving system cued by software.
A sturdy carrying case has been designed by Matternet to protect any cargo whilst it is being ferried and the drone’s payload can transmit information regarding the contents and destination of a shipment. This could be a useful feature for logistics companies using the drones as it would act as a kind of proof of delivery.
The co-founder and CEO of Matternet, Andreas Raptopoulos explained that whilst the entire concept sounds like the stuff of sci-fi, the technology is ready for immediate use providing regulations allowing it.
The Vision Van in theory can launch a Matternet M2 drone with a payload to a destination that’s not immediately accessible to a van or driver. This could be due to traffic, or roads closed due to bad weather or even natural disasters.
Alternatively, the drones could transport a package from a distribution depot, to a van so the driver could complete the delivery to a customer’s doorstep by hand.
Mercedes-Benz, a division of Daimler, may be better known for its luxury and sports cars, but it’s a fact that Mercedes-Benz Vans sold 321,000 vehicles in 2015, according to a company financial statement.
In early 2016, Matternet pioneered unmanned aircraft systems for the charity UNICEF that are being used to transport blood samples for HIV testing in Malawi. This could increase the delivery of care to HIV-positive children across the country where 10,000 died due to related illnesses in 2014.
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