Mercedes-Benz is experimenting with small bots to carry cargo over that last, pesky mile to the customer, using a human-driven van to ferry the them over the previous stretch.
The two kinds of bots, aerial and terrestrial, are being supplied by companies we’ve already written about. Matternet is providing its slick M2 quadcopter, several of which would perch on the van’s roof. Starship Technologies is providing its six-wheel robot, eight of which can fit inside a van.
The idea is that the driver of the Mercedes Sprinter van would load up the bots with their various payloads, take an optimized route from one customer to the next, and unleash the automatons. Then, after the bots have made their rounds, the van would pick them up again at some convenient point, carry them back to the warehouse, load them with more cargo and, perhaps, swap out the battery.