Daimler Unveils “Skateboard”-Based Autonomous Shuttle

Daimler AG’s Vision Urbanetic electric shuttle has a self-driving chassis that can switch in minutes between a body set up to carry 12 passengers and one designed specifically for cargo.

Daimler envisions such shuttles as circulating continuously, guided by an infrastructure that analyzes demand in real time and directs the vehicles accordingly. The company’s overall goal is to show how existing roadways could be used to move more people and goods with fewer vehicles.

Bodies for the skateboard-like chassis can be changed automatically or manually in a few minutes, Daimler says. Because the chassis contains all the necessary driving gear—including the front grille, headlamps and tail lights—it also can be dispatched without a body to its next job.

Vision Urbanetic vehicles are equipped with multiple displays through which they can signal pedestrians and bicyclists that it has noticed them and will act appropriately. The displays also help users who have summoned a shuttle to identify which unit has come for them.