Named after everybody’s favorite alien, eT! is an electric-powered van said to drive semi-automatically on command. It’s a look forward at what future commercial vehicles might be able to offer users from a company that’s been building goods vehicles for more than 60 years.
The Volkswagen Group Research collaborated with the German Post Office (Deutsche Post AG) – one of the largest customers of lightweight commercial vehicles – in addition to the University of Art at Braunschweig. Together, they formed a think tank on future transport and mobility.
“We analyzed process flow and customer needs, and from derived ideas on how delivery and courier vehicles could be developed in the long term.” Said Prof Dr Jürgen Leohold from VW. “In this context, we focused on zero-emissions and urban space, semi automatic functions to simplify process and the integration of new communication. On top of that, we set out to design an appealing vehicle.”
The eT! research vehicle could revolutionize the world of lightweight commercial vehicles. In particular, the possibility to drive semi-automatically and electrically in downtown areas unifies economic and environmental aspects.
To make the work of mail delivery and courier drivers simpler, eT! can be operated semi-automatically in certain situations. For example, the van can follow the delivery person from house to house (“Follow me”), or return to the person on command (“Come to me”) without a driver.
As an alternative, the driver can direct the car’s movements via a ‘drive stick’ from the passenger’s side that offers a standing seat and quick access to the vehicle. This means the operator is by the sidewalk and, via an electrically opening, sliding door that opens in two stages, it enables quick entry to the vehicle as well as quick access to the consignment. This could make many walking movements around the vehicle unnecessary.