In This ‘Avatar’-Themed Mercedes-Benz, Two Hearts Beat as One

Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR

LAS VEGAS – The Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR, as in Avatar the movie (and director James Cameron showed up on stage), made an earth-friendly debut Monday night at CES 2020. It is the automaker’s view of a battery electric vehicle / autonomous vehicle ready for a sustainable future. AVTR stands for Advanced Vehicle Transformation.

There is a lot of way-out stuff in the car, such as 33 moving scales on the back. (What’s not in the car are side doors.) The AVTR recognizes the driver from his or her heartbeat and breathing, and gives an affirmational pulse on the seatback, as passenger and vehicle become a single “symbiotic organism.”

There is also an important technical advance: The Vision AVTR batteries would use graphene-based materials free from rare earth metals and would be compostable at end of life, according to Mercedes.

The front seats are almost hammock-like. The driver interacts with the center console (no steering wheel), which resembles something of a human figure from the waist down. (That’s what we see.)

Mercedes says the AVTR is “inspired by the world of Pandora [from the movie] … a completely new interaction between human, machine, and nature.” While it’s easy to make fun of some of the show-car excesses, such as the road wheels with spokes that light up, as if they were sourced from the SEMA aftermarket parts show held last fall, Mercedes is looking into how the car and passengers might complement each other. The person in the left-front seat, the former driver, no longer has the stress of dealing with traffic and deciding which motorists to flip off. So the car could soothe, massage, entertain, even educate the kids in back.

The commander, if not driver, of the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR interacts via the center console.

Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR

The complete AVTR manifesto – sorry, informational release – runs 10,200 words or 21 pages as a PDF. (Boomers, that’s a 34-page double-spaced term paper.)  We especially appreciated the description, toward the end, about kids in the car:

The Vision AVTR automatically detects when a family is on board and adapts accordingly in its functions. For example, the front seats are connected to the rear seat via the Child Connect function. Monitors can be used to monitor the well-being of the children in the rear by the parents at the front. As a further connection between the front seats and the rear, the pulse of the front passengers on the back of their seats is visualized by light. This gives younger inmates [that’s what it said, “inmates” – Ed.] in particular a sense of connectedness and security in the rear seats.

Moving flaps, or scales, on the back of the Vision AVTR.

There are serious technologies. The AVTR can crab-walk / drive sideways or at an angle. Imagine fitting into the tiniest possible parking space. It uses vegan microfiber fabrics for the seats. Any woods in the car, it goes without saying, are sustainably grown. Then there’s the battery:

Organic battery technology made of recyclable materials: For the first time, the Vision concept vehicle is using a revolutionary battery technology based on graphene-based organic cell chemistry that is completely free of rare earths and metals. The materials of the battery are compostable and therefore completely recyclable. In this way, electric mobility becomes independent of fossil resources. As a result, Mercedes-Benz underlines the high relevance of a future circular economy in the raw materials sector.

The wheel spokes light up in the concept vehicle

To each, his or her own. What may be futuristic to some may be an unusual styling, even odd, styling exercise. The aroma of weed permeates the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) these days, especially the pedestrian overpasses, and there is a good place to ponder the design and meaning of the vehicle:

Which central motif stands for the design? The world in harmony and symbiosis with nature are our guiding principles. We designed the showcar as a holistic system. Everything can be changed, and at the same time has an impact on the whole organism – or the car. Even the outer shape reflects this. It is still clearly recognizable as an automobile, but with many references to natural beings. We wanted to design a car that could connect seamlessly with its passengers. The user experience as a central element is comparable to a symbiotic organism. Our design philosophy of sensual purity is always the guiding principle – our aesthetic soul, so to speak.

Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR are sort of hammock-like, just as in the village of Pandora.

The Vision AVTR vehicle won’t be sold to consumers. (Would you buy a Mercedes with no side doors?) But as a styling exercise, it’s fun. And we’ll certainly see some elements come to market. It’s high time premium automakers offered more interior fabrics that weren’t formerly the outside of a farm animal. And we certainly can use vehicles that insulate occupants from the outside world.

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