By on September 7, 2016

drone (Peter Linehan/Flickr)

Mercedes-Benz plans to spend piles of cash figuring out exciting new business models for its vans segment, and one idea involves invading people’s airspace.

Because most of its van buyers are in the delivery business, the German automaker sees benefits in offering a system where part of a parcel’s journey is accomplished using a drone, Reuters reports.

Volker Mornhinweg, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Vans, made the high-flying announcement at a German press conference today. The automaker wants to have a hand in all aspects of delivery operations, rather than just providing the vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz also wants to make it easier to get your hands on one of their vans.

“We are moving beyond a business model based on the idea of ownership and are looking at a pay-as-you use systems, which include short-term rental of vans by the hour,” Mornhinweg said.

Just imagine it: a Sprinter, in all its utilitarian splendor…but now with drones.

The unmanned aerial vehicles could carry a package for the last mile of the journey, plopping it in front of your door. Hopefully, there won’t be any peeking through drapes.

Mercedes-Benz claims that experiments with drones and delivery robots will be part of its five-year, $562 million series of pilot projects. If you think they’re bluffing, think again.

“It is definitely coming,” Vornhinweg told reporters.

Already, the automaker has designed a concept vehicle with the help of drone maker Matternet, according to Tech Crunch. The company’s Matternet M2 drones would be able to fly from the vehicle’s rooftop launch pad.

Drones launched from the “Vision Van” would be able to carry 4.4 pounds of cargo a distance of 12 miles on a battery charge. Mercedes-Benz is apparently putting its money where its dreams are, investing an undisclosed amount of cash into the tech startup.

[Image: Peter Linehan/Flickr]

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6 Comments on “The Next Big Thing for Mercedes-Benz Vans: Drones...”

  • avatar

    Drone Delivery: Easy theft, just need a slingshot or a plastic $10 rake and that random container will be yours.

    Not to mention its a bit slow and your items could be damaged if the pilots sloppy.

    • 0 avatar

      I envision a FedEx or UPS truck driving down the street slowly with drones flying out to the sides delivering to front porches. For heavier items or items requiring signature, the driver will get out and deliver in the usual way, which will allow the small army of drones to catch back up to the delivery truck. Since the driver will be in the vicinity of the drones at all times, the driver can check to make sure there are no roving bands of hooligans carrying shotguns.

      As far as theft: at least here in California we have laws for everything… including shooting down people’s drones. :-( Seriously, though, you can steal your neighbor’s stuff more easily right now: just wait for the FedEx guy to drive off, walk over to the neighbor’s house, and pick up their package from the front porch. Easy!

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    I’ve been doing RC for years, and own several drones. Based on the technology that exists, and the liability laws, I think we will have a colony on Mars before delivery drones can be financial feasible.

  • avatar

    Better a google type car for delivering those small packages on residential.

    They get a phone call shortly before arrival go out to the car enter code or tracking on keyboard on car side. Take package & pay duties.

    No employee to pay. Heavy stuff still goes in a panel van with a courier.

  • avatar

    I’ve got such an urge to grab those skids like handles and see how that thing would do trimming hedges, maybe with just two props so I didn’t trim me.

  • avatar

    why does this remind me of the homing pigeon in Speed Racer’s Mach 5???

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