Mercedez-Benz unveils VISION AVTR concept car
Organic batteries, autonomous driving and reptilian ‘bionic flaps’ are all par for the course with Mercedes-Benz’s newest concept car.
Mercedes-Benz has showcased a new concept car inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar, dubbed the VISION AVTR. Unveiled at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the vehicle takes design cues from the world of Pandora, aiming to predict what mobility will look like in the distant future and show new ways that people, machines and nature can interact.
Most obvious are the 33 ‘bionic flaps’ on the back of the vehicle, which Mercedes-Benz says are designed to resemble the scales of a reptile, and can “communicate with the driver”. But this synchronicity doesn’t stop here: the VISION AVTR has no steering wheel. Yes, you read that right. After the driver places their hand on the centre console, the car recognises them through their breathing. Steering and acceleration are then all managed through the car’s control unit, a multifunctional interface that is used to manage how the car drives. ‘Comfort mode’ sees the car drive completely autonomously, or the driver can choose varying levels of manual control.
And speaking of control, there’s something we haven’t mentioned yet: the car can drive sideways. Because the front and rear axles can be driven independently of each other, the concept vehicle is capable of moving, crab-like, across the road, rather than forward.
Sustainability is also front and centre. The battery technology that the vehicle uses is based on graphene, and completely free of rare earths and metals. As if that’s not enough, Mercedes Benz says that the battery’s materials are “compostable, and therefore completely recyclable”. The interior upholstery uses vegan DINAMICA leather, derived from old clothing and PET plastic bottles. It’s the first and only microfibre that guarantees environmental sustainability throughout the entire production cycle. And on the floor, you’ll find Indonesian Karuun (Rattan), which is a fast-growing, sustainable tree harvested by hand.
So can you roll down the road to your local dealer and pick one up? Sadly, chances are it’s a no on that one. “The aim of the VISION AVTR is to show us a signpost for a liveable future, even if it will probably never be built”, says Alexander Mankowsky, a futurologist at Mercedes-Benz. It looks like this one’s set to remain the stuff of dreams.
All images courtesy of Mercedes-Benz