- This Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR It was first unveiled at CES in 2020, and now it moves under its own power.
- The concept is claimed to be inspired by the original Avatar A blockbuster film, set in a car-free natural paradise.
- Now, there’s a sequel, Avatar: The Path of Water. Vision AVTR is not in the film.
In November, Mercedes and manufacturers Avatar: The Path of Water invited a few journalists to the studio in El Segundo, California, where the creative force behind Avatar, James Cameron, set up his shop. There, among the impressive props from Cameron’s previous films—inc Terminator movies, AliensAnd Titanic—We watched some clips from the new film and took a ride in the Vision AVTR concept.
First, let’s say that James Cameron is about as safe a bet as there is in the movie business, and the clips shown look pretty good. However, Mercedes-Benz’s association with a film set in a fantasy world of blue giants who spend most of their time swimming, seems a bit tenuous.
“You respond to your environment,” the film’s producer, Jon Landau, explained in a teleconference. “If you pass through the world Avatar, things change. You are connected to and respond to your environment. Bioluminescence, objects react when you touch them. And the car does the same in its environment. see? There is a connection.
The Vision AVTR certainly looks futuristic. It’s a future where, apparently, side-impact door beams and seatbelts have become unnecessary, even the tires have accent lighting, little flaps in the bodywork open and close like gills, and cargo space isn’t much needed.
In a cockpit buck separate from the real car, the Mercedes team showcased some intriguing technology. It consists of an entire dashboard that illuminates and conveys information, mostly from an overhead projector. A center control knob between the driver and passenger allows either to pilot the vehicle by moving it forward and backward, left and right.
The AVTR isn’t based on any current production Mercedes, electric or otherwise, and uses about four electric motors inside each of its giant wheels. Each motor and each wheel can operate independently of the others, meaning the car crabs sideways or turns almost entirely within its own wheelbase.
The degree to which AVTR’s specifications are realistic versus aspirational is somewhat unclear. But Mercedes says the motors have a combined output of 350 kilowatts, which is slightly more than 469 horsepower.
The battery pack eschews the current industry-standard lithium-ion for a graphene-based organic cell chemistry, which can also be produced without using any rare earth minerals or other toxic materials. And it’s recyclable. Mercedes projects that charging such a battery with a capacity of 100 kilowatt-hours can take just 15 minutes.
Time to go for a ride. Getting in and out of a real vehicle in the California sunshine proves one thing: some seriously inefficient air conditioning will still be needed in the future. With so much glass and/or other transparency, it takes some serious solar load.
With an underdeveloped suspension and tires built to look spectacular rather than ride smoothly, an AVTR-type security golf cart rumbled around the studio behind. But the ease with which the car was controlled by that center stick was impressive. If the future is filled with connected vehicles constantly communicating with each other, and artificial intelligence around to keep things moving, drivers can have as many sticks as they want.
Of course, the future is unlikely to follow AVTR’s lead exactly. And it’s also unlikely that there’s even an accessible planet full of big blue people. But he is excited about the future, it could be anything.
Avatar: The Path of Water Opens everywhere this Thursday night. So far, early reviews have been glowing. Just don’t expect to see AVTR in it.
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