While the van is still in its concept phase, the idea behind it is quite promising. The vehicle is being called Vision Van and will sport several technological advances that may change the future of how a package is delivered.
The van will serve as a launching pad for the Matternet M2 drones enabling the operator to send out multiple small packages to consignees while the operator himself/herself delivers a heavier parcel by foot. The drone can carry a package weighing up to 4.4 pounds, travel for 12 miles on a single battery charge, and is equipped with a hard-shell case to protect its cargo.
They are also designed to swap a new battery and reload their next package without the need of human intervention. This is possible through the Vision Van's on-board and cloud-based system and the robotic shelving design inside the vehicle managed and controlled by a software, according to Techcrunch.
Additionally, the drones are able to transmit information on its current path alerting the receiver that their package is near, as well as providing proof of delivery for the logistic company. The autonomous van is electrically powered and is able to travel 270 km (180 miles) on a charge.
There several unique advantages that this van offer. For instance, if the van is stuck in heavy traffic but is within the area of delivery, it could simply send out the drone to hand over the parcel. This could also work in rural areas where recent disasters may have blocked the path.
Indeed, this unique aerial feature is also being considered by the US Postal Service.
While there are features of the Vision Van that are already functional, Daimler - manufacturers of Mercedes cars and trucks - declines when the vehicle will hit the market.