Volkswagen's eT! concept reinvents the delivery vehicle with semi-autonomous capabilities
By Jack Martin
November 18, 2011
A thinktank headed by Volkswagen Group Research has re-conceptualized the delivery vehicle and come up with a thought-provoking commercial EV concept vehicle named the eT! The eT! drives semi-autonomously on voice commands such as "follow me" and "come to me" and the driver can also steer from the passenger side using a joystick.
The product of a Thinktank on future transport and mobility issues involving Volkswagen Group Research, Deutsche Post AG (German Post Office), and the University of Art at Braunschweig, the eT! was conceptualized as a what a lightweight commercial vehicle might look like in the "second half of this decade".
Though the eT! being shown at the Design Centre of Potsdam is a mail delivery vehicle, the lightweight transporter was conceived as being relevant to numerous commercial vehicle applications, which are being explored in ongoing research studies.
In formulating the eT!, the group analysed process flows and customer needs of delivery and courier vehicle users and hence came up with some interesting solutions for productivity and shortening delivery times using Volkswagen Group's expertise in autonomous vehicles.
Remember that VW Group worked closely with Stanford University's Sebastien Thrun to create "Stanley", which won the second DARPA Grand Challenge, performed well in the DARPA Urban Challenge, and has been exploring autonomous passenger vehicles almost as aggressively as General Motors with its driverless Audi TT.
In an effort to make mail delivery and courier tasks faster, the eT! can follow the delivery person from house to house ("Follow me") or it can be summoned on command ("Come to me").
eT! can also be driven via a 'drive stick' from the passenger's side, the side of the vehicle that faces the sidewalk and therefore the working area of the delivery person.
This side also features an electric sliding door that opens in two stages for quick walk-on access, reducing the need for walking around the vehicle. For even quicker turnaround, the passenger side features a standing seat.
There is no doubt that autonomous capabilities will eventually permeate every aspect of personal transport. Check out this story to see just how far they have already advanced.