VW reveals van that drives itself and comes when called
Volkswagen claims that its eT! concept, unveiled at the Design Centre of Potsdam this week, reinvents the delivery vehicle.
The electrically-powered van can drive itself while unoccupied, and even responds to external commands.
The eT! – the exclamation mark is intended as in VW’s up! city car – is the result of a think-tank which saw VW join forces with the German Post Office.
It’s described as a research vehicle that could in time revolutionise the lightweight commercial vehicle market.
As well as the electric zero-emissions motor, the van features some clever technology, not least a semi-automatic driving function that requires no-one in the driving seat.
The eT! could for example follow a postman as they walk down a street delivering mail from house to house, or drive to them at the other end of a street following a simple command.
The driver can also direct the van’s functions using a ‘drive-stick’ from the passenger side, allowing them to make his deliveries far more quickly. The passenger side also has a ‘standing seat’ and an electrically-opening side loading door to ease access.
VW spokesman Dr Wolfgang Schreiber says that the eT! research vehicle brings together a wide range of innovative functions which will become important in the future.
“In particular, the possibility of driving the car semi-automatically – and electrically – in downtown areas unifies economical and environmental aspects more systematically than ever,” Schreiber says.
He does admit that unlike other recent VW electric vehicles the eT! is not likely to reach a showroom any time soon.
He sees it instead as showcasing the maximum technology possible for electric vehicles in today’s commercial market, in a special design addressing future customer needs.
Words by: Andrew Charman