CES 2019: Digital Inspiration

The new year just started and already came with its first highlight: in September 2018, we presented our self-driving, electrically powered Vision URBANETIC study to the world for the first time. Just a few weeks later, I experienced the famous Las Vegas Strip in it.

Why? At the beginning of January the city is known as the “place to be” for tech enthuasists from all over the world – hosting the Consumer Eletronics Show (CES), where we introduced the concept to the US market. And, what can I say? I think our Vision URBANETIC fits perfectly to the event: both provide a fascinating view into the future.

This year, the ride on the Strip was undoubtedly a very special CES experience for me. But, I always find the start of the year in Las Vegas very inspiring – far beyond the topic of mobility. Every year, I am impressed by the variety of ideas, digital solutions and the speed at which digitization is changing the world, which can clearly be seen in Las Vegas these days.

With the Vision URBANETIC in Las Vegas: an extraordinary car in an extraordinary city. And at the same time a piece of the future to touch. Concepts such as the Vision URBANETIC promise a new quality of life in the metropolises.

Digitization might not arouse the same fascination for all people. For some, it might cause scepticism and sometimes even discomfort. The reason why might be that visions of complete automation are sometimes perceived as limiting. Some of us simply fear that there is little room for human individuality and free choices.

The human being at the center

At Daimler, we are convinced that human beings must be at the center of digital transformation. We work on solutions that focus on the freedom and individuality of people. It’s about achieving a balance between people and technology – and believing in its positive effects.

The Vision URBANETIC is the perfect example for that. Not only because it enables needs-based, sustainable and efficient mobility. But, especially because this mobility concept has an innovative UI/UX design and communication features.

“Informed trust” through digital shadowing

These features allow pedestrians and cyclists to intuitively capture what the vehicle is going to do next. For example, if you cross the street in front of it, you will be informed via animations about being perceived.

Another highlight is the digital shadowing in the side door area. As you approach the vehicle sideways, several hundred light units signal that you have been detected and blur your contours on the sidewall. At Daimler, we speak of “informed trust” in this context. The human being can assess the next actions of the vehicle and is able to decide for himself how to react.

CASE: Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, Electric

In addition, the Vision URBANETIC is a good example for what our group-wide CASE strategy stands for at Mercedes-Benz Vans. The vehicle combines several CASE topics that we at Mercedes-Benz Vans already put on the road: the connectivity of Mercedes PRO and related fleet management solutions, automated driving functions, the ride-sharing concept of ViaVan and electric drives, just to give some examples.

The real promise of digitization? Life quality!

And there is even more: the Vision URBANETIC impressively demonstrates which solutions can emerge based on network thinking. And exactly these solutions inspire me again and again. Because they not only increase efficiency and sustainability, but also the quality of our lives.

And that’s exactly what lies in the very promise of digitization, in my opinion. We are following exactly this path with our transformation from a vehicle manufacturer to a provider of transport and mobility solutions. The Vision URBANETIC is just one example of this. Many more will follow in the future – in Las Vegas and other places.

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Wilfried Porth is Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Human Resources and Director of Labor Relations & Mercedes-Benz Vans.