Aesthetics meets intelligence – unusual forms and striking contrasts
- The challenge: create an aesthetic for a new mobility concept, visually unite three different elements
- Natural structure for minimum material usage paired with the greatest possible stiffness in the people-mover module
The design of the Vision URBANETIC is a spectacular combination of intelligence and aesthetics. Mercedes-Benz designers were faced with the challenge not only of creating a standalone design language and standalone aesthetic for a completely new mobility concept, they also had to combine the autonomous driving platform with two bodies for entirely different purposes. At the same time, they had to generate striking contrasts between the individual elements. The outcome is a vehicle consisting of three different elements that nevertheless looks like a whole, regardless of the combination.
“Vision URBANETIC takes our design language of sensual purity way into the future. We’ve created a standalone aesthetic for a mobility concept that has never before existed”, says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG.
Skateboard chassis – designed for functionality
The skateboard chassis serves as a technology prototype and incorporates all driving functions. It is therefore designed purely for functionality. LED displays front and rear communicate with the outside world and inform pedestrians and other road users about the vehicle’s imminent actions and reactions. Instead of headlamps, the skateboard chassis is fitted with sensors that deploy or retract depending on driving status and thus serve as an indicator for autonomous driving.
People-mover module – new design for a previously non-existent form of mobility
A visual highlight of Vision URBANETIC is the people-mover module with its characteristic design language and unconventional proportions.
The aim was to find a new exterior and interior design for a previously non-existent form of people moving. The designers incorporated elements from urban architecture into the exterior. They chose an organic form with a natural structure, which enabled a high degree of aesthetics to be coupled with a form that offers maximum bodyshell stiffness using the lowest possible amount of material. The exterior design is, on one hand, business-like, while, on the other, open, emotional and inviting due not least to its unique communication features.
A number of different lighting elements along the outside, the organic structure, provide the vehicle with a new way of entering into dialogue with the world around it. One particular highlight is the person recognition, which projects the intelligence of the sensors onto the outer skin of the people-mover. This gives passers-by in the vicinity a feeling of safety, while at the same time stimulating the urge to engage light-heartedly with the vehicle.
The interior design of the people-mover module has been systematically configured for the diverse needs of the passengers. The passenger cabin is divided into three different zones connected seamlessly with one another: a lounge in the rear, a zone in the middle for standing and a seated area up front.
The rear section offers passengers a protected space with a cocooning effect. They can’t be seen from outside and can enjoy their privacy during the journey. In the central area close to the door is a space where passengers on short journeys can stand or lean. The front area is open and surrounded by windows. Tourists sitting here can relax and enjoy views of the city along the way.
There are premium materials like wood and leather throughout the interior, with brand accents set by the Silver Arrow trim on the doors and frames. The interior is a digital experience that uses innovatively and intelligently interlinked communication media to offer passengers a continual feed of key information on their respective journeys as well as a variety of entertainment features to make the ride as enjoyable as possible. It centres around a completely new kind of 360-degree display that can show everything from the classic information on stops to the location of nearby points of interest to its own little games. Thanks to augmented reality, passengers can now also bring the city into the vehicle. This feature offers the opportunity to explore the surroundings during the trip based on a diverse array of criteria.
The passengers in the Vision URBANETIC also retain all of the familiar luxury. Tucked away beneath a skirt running around the entire cabin is a powerful air-conditioning system. In a particularly nice touch, the designers have come up with a water dispenser from which passengers can buy “Sternwasser” (star water), a special mineral water in an aesthetically designed bottle, via smartphone.
Cargo body – visual references to overseas shipping containers
As per the skateboard chassis, functionality defines the design of the cargo body. The aim was to use the form to ensure maximum possible load space and corresponding load volume. This has been achieved through the triangular design language, in contrast to the rounded people-mover module, and the intelligent Cargo Flex Floor, which provides a second load level as required or folds away for maximum load height. The functional emphasis of the design underscores the sparing use of materials and focus on lightweight construction.