The future of motoring

Mercedes unveils 'Avatar'-inspired concept car with scaly 'skin'

Futuristic Benz features reptile-like 'bionic flaps' and spherical wheels for sideways-driving ability

07 January 2020 - 10:20 By Denis Droppa
The 33 'bionic flaps' on the back of the vehicle are reminiscent of the scales of reptiles and can communicate with the outside world through naturally flowing movements in subtle gestures.
The 33 'bionic flaps' on the back of the vehicle are reminiscent of the scales of reptiles and can communicate with the outside world through naturally flowing movements in subtle gestures.
Image: Supplied

Car companies bring out some of their most weird and wonderful concepts at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and Mercedes-Benz has gone fully into sci-fi mode with its Avatar-themed car, complete with scales.

Called Vision AVTR, the outlandish concept car, launched at this week's show in Las Vegas, was inspired by the 2009 movie featuring tall blue aliens. The film's director, James Cameron, had a hand in designing the vehicle.

Envisioning what Mercedes terms a “distant future of mobility”, the vehicle features special spherical wheels that were inspired by the “seeds of the Tree of Souls” from the movie. These wheels can rotate so that the AVTR can move sideways or diagonally.

The rear end is covered in scales, which Mercedes calls bionic flaps. They can be used to communicate with people outside the car through naturally flowing movements in subtle gestures.

The car's design was inspired by several creatures from the movie, 'Avatar'.
The car's design was inspired by several creatures from the movie, 'Avatar'.
Image: Supplied

The AVTR, as with most concept cars these days, previews a world of self-driving vehicles and doesn't have a steering wheel. Instead, passengers interact with the vehicle through an accordion-style biometric controller that glides up out of the centre console.

Placing a hand on the controller makes the interior come to life and the vehicle recognises the driver by his or her heartbeat and breathing. A menu selection is projected onto the palm of a hand, through which the passenger can intuitively choose between different functionalities, with 3D graphics.

The AVTR is planet-friendly too. Apart from being electrically-powered (of course), it uses a revolutionary battery technology based on graphene-based organic cell chemistry that is free of rare earths and metals, and completely recyclable. Its vegan-friendly seats are made of a leather-like Dinamica microfibre.

Passengers interact with the self-driving car with a controller that accordions out of the centre console.
Passengers interact with the self-driving car with a controller that accordions out of the centre console.
Image: Supplied
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