Web Desk: Year 2019 is the year of the electric, connected, autonomous pod things. Keeping this in mind, Mercedes brought the new CLA to CES.
It is electrically-powered skateboard to which you can fasten many different bodies. This is designed to carry passengers, but naturally there would also be ones for carrying things.
“This is a feature we should really think about for the future,” beamed Ola Kallenius, Daimler board member, before a quick, almost cursory discussion of the company’s Vision Urbanetic, a self-driving people carrier with 12 seats, a 360-degree slim mini-display, and a design with so much swoopy pizazz that it could easily be repurposed as a basketball shoe.
There’s a big display on the front of the Urbanetic, so it can communicate with, for example, people trying to cross the road. The side-door does much the same – they reassure pedestrians, cyclists and so-on that they’ve been seen, and that the vehicle will act accordingly.
Of course all the Urbanetics would be connected. Mercedes’ system “analyses supply and demand in real time,” resulting in an “autonomous fleet whose routes are planned flexibly and efficiently on the basis of current transport needs”. It can also learn, so it can anticipate and respond to things more quickly. If a club kicks out at a certain time every Friday night, for example, a load of Urbanetics could be sent there to ferry the student drunkards home without them even having to ask.