This year’s CES had no shortage of futuristic plans, ideas or concepts. From flying cars to organic batteries. It showed how we are so much closer to the future shown in the movies.
Mercedes Benz has one-upped its game and actually sought help from the creators of one such movie for their new concept vehicle. Mercedes Benz Vision AVTR was unveiled at the CES 2020, Las Vegas and it is absolutely mind-blowing. Simply put, it looks exactly like what one would envision a futuristic car to be.
Mercedes Benz has teamed up with the team of science-fiction film-franchise Avatar to develop the Vision AVTR (Advanced Vehicle Transformation) concept car.
The four-seater showcases a fresh new design and a human-machine interface which is hologram based. It has multiple flaps on the rear panel, functioning as active adjustable aerodynamic-elements.
Vision AVTR has been cultivated by Mercedes Benz with the assistance of James Cameron and his team, who were the backbone of the movie Avatar. They did all the work related to graphics and concept development in the 2009 movie which was about a humanoid species living on another planet, in the 22nd century.
Mercedes Benz chairman Ola Källlenius was joined by film director James Cameron, Academy award-winning producer Jon Landau, supervising director Aashrita Kamath and production designer Ben Proctor at the unveiling of this groundbreaking new concept at the CES 2020. They have all played a major role in the development of this show car.
While it doesn’t particularly lead any of the cars from Mercedes’ line up of production models, the Vision AVTR is here to start a conversation. A dialogue about how closer interactions between humans, machines and nature are not only needed and necessary but also possible in the foreseeable future. They are required to be addressed by designers, engineers and researchers alike.
The distinct curvature of the concept vehicle hints at the newer Mercedes Benz designs, including the Bionic and Biome concept cars by the German car manufacturer. It might be what a 22nd century S-class may look like.
Stefan Köhl, head of advanced design at Mercedes-Benz, describes this as a playground of new shapes and ideas within a human-centred design idiom. He further explains how they carefully studied James Cameron’s vision in Avatar and applied it to their latest car concept. Elaborating this, he tells how human-centred design is not just about containing people within an interior. They are taking a whole new approach with no straight lines anywhere. He explains how they used curves, with a lightness and transparency that they believe will play an important role in the future.
Köhl is known to be the influence for the looks behind most of Mercedes Benz’s recent concepts. He met with the set designers of Avatar to discuss how to include nature as an inspiration and give it a more influential role in design, when creating a new concept. Köhl expressed in an interview that this was a rare approach. They felt the need for their design to be closer to nature as the premise of the film was about creatures who adapted to their surroundings, hence this approach with the Vision AVTR.
Among the more flamboyant elements featured on the concept are 33 individual ‘bionic flaps’ (akin to reptilian scales) that deploy from the rear bodywork to alter the aerodynamics.
One of the most vivacious elements to be a part of this concept are the thirty-three individual bionic flaps, which resemble scales of a reptilian, they deploy from the rear end so as to alter the aerodynamics. The flaps can also work as integrated solar panels to help power the car. Also, the typical round tyres are removed and in place of them, a special type of spherical tyres are used. According to Köhl, this was done in order to increase manoeuvrability; that means they allow it to move sideways, and also have a lesser impact on the surroundings.
The new concept will move sideways at approximately thirty degrees by being able to drive the front and rear axles in the same or opposite direction. Such a movement is known as the crab manoeuvre and is designed in order to provide maximum agility to a vehicle.
The interior of Vision AVTR is a completely different story, with the hologram based interface system. Mercedes Benz has prepared this concept car to interact with the occupants on a deeper level than the models of today. The hologram interface in combination with autonomous driving technology is set to be the future of self-driving vehicles. It will eventually lead to a time where there would be no need for the steering wheel and most traditional controls used right now.
Hartmut Sunkwitz, head of interior design at Mercedes Benz told that the dashboard design and seats are influenced by the shape of waves and flowers. And the reclining front seats are based on leaf hammocks in the home tree. It also uses sustainable wood on the floor and Dinamica leather upholstery.
The interior is made with plenty of natural materials, including Karuun wood which is made from rattan, found in Indonesia. This car is made up of 100% recyclable material and took almost two years to complete. It includes the graphene-based organic cells that are completely recyclable and free of rare earth metals.