Robo - Drone - Vans by Mercedes – Starship - Matternet


A division of Daimler, Mercedes Benz vans joined forces with Starship technologies and Matternet to coalesce vans, robots and drones for an efficient small package consignment.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its Vision Van, a fully automated cargo management system. Matternet’s new second generation drone ‘Matternet 2’, is developed with a cloud technology which is integrated into the roof of the Vision van, with routing software, allowing end-to-end control of the supply chain. The roof top acts as a launch pad for the drone which allows safe landing, automatic payload and battery exchange with an absence of human intervention. 

With a robust hardware the drone can carry any item; its payload will transmit data about the contents and destination of a given delivery. This data would help the sellers and the customers with the information, as soon as the product is delivered.

The Vision Van not only mounts the drones but also hosts eight delivery robots. The robots will be loaded with their goods in the Vision van using a racking system that enables 400 packages to be delivered every 9 hour shift, compared to 180 packages using previously available methods, an increase of over 120%.

Usually a manned door-to-door delivery involves driving to every delivery area and unloading the products to be delivered for each and every customer but with ‘Robovan’ the vans will drive to pre-agreed locations to load and unload goods and then dispatch the robots in the final step for on-demand delivery. Upon making the customer delivery, the robots will autonomously find their way back to the van for re-loading.



“By leaving the door-to- door part to delivery robots the van drivers’ productivity will significantly rise while reducing congestion on the streets and CO2 emissions” said Allan Martinson, Starship’s Chief Operating Officer.

The Vision Van can not only launch a drone to an inaccessible destination for the van driver but can also drop a group of friendly side walk robots. As per research report, the top drone component companies to watch out in 2016 providing the parts for drones across the industry are: IXYS Corp., Invensense Inc., TransDigm GroupNVIDIA, and MicroPilot.

Starship Technologies’ delivery robots have now covered over 12,000km around the world in 12 countries and 47 cities, coming into contact with over 1.2 million people.

Matternet has developed unmanned aircraft systems for UNICEF that is being used to transport blood samples for HIV testing in Malawi. The initiative could speed up the delivery of care to HIV-positive infants across the country where 10,000 children died of HIV-related illnesses in 2014.

The global small drones market is projected to grow from USD 5.80 Billion in 2015 to USD 10.04 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 11.6% during the period under consideration. The North America market will witness high growth over the period of 2016-2020. However, the market growth of small UAVs will be defined on how the countries define policies which reduce the market barriers and ease the way for the commercial drone industry to operate at varying degrees of autonomy.

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