Mercedes-Benz came with a very cool concept car at 2020 CES: the new VISION AVTR – a concept car inspired by the AVATAR movies. According to the company the new concept car “connects human, machine and nature in an unprecedented way.” The concept was developed using a revolutionary battery technology developed with 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.
The UX designers from Mercedes-Benz shape the relationship between human and machine and vice versa. The focus is on the simplest and most intuitive operation by the user. An important motive is the self-determination of the user and the approach to use the entire interior for information. The goal is to display the right information at the right time – and only as long as it is actually needed.
In the VISION AVTR, the Mercedes-Benz UX designers focus on the user experience in a completely new way. Inspired by the fictional world of Pandora from AVATAR, the VISION AVTR enables a previously unknown symbiosis of human, vehicle and surroundings. The result: a visionary vehicle that expands the senses of the occupants and increases their perceptual ability. As soon as the passengers take their seats in the VISION AVTR, they merge with the vehicle and can virtually feel and perceive the world around them even more consciously.
The VISION AVTR already responds to the approach of the passengers by visualizing the energy and information flow of the environment with digital neurons that flow through the grill through the wheels to the rear area. The first interaction in the interior between man and vehicle happens completely intuitively via the control unit: By placing the hand on the center console, the interior comes to life and the vehicle recognizes the driver by his breathing. This is made visible on the instrument panel and on the user’s hand. The VISION AVTR thus establishes a biometric connection with the driver and increases his awareness of the environment. The digital neurons flow from the interior into the exterior and visualize the flow of energy and information. For example, when driving, the neurons flow over the outside of the vehicle. When changing direction, the energy flows to the corresponding side of the vehicle.
The control unit is a multifunctional (polyvalent) interface that allows human and machine to merge. It is also used to control the VISION AVTR, either by the driver’s or the passenger’s seat. The device can be raised or lowered by a short tap if necessary – so the control unit is only visible when it is needed. Depending on the mood and vitality of the driver, the car offers different driving options: In comfort mode, the vehicle is autonomous. Optionally, the control unit is driven up to half, so that the driver can influence the speed. If the driver wants to have full control of the vehicle, the control unit can be completely lifted for steering.
The vehicle as an immersive experience space
The visual connection between passengers and the outside world is created by the curved display module, which replaces a conventional dashboard. The outside world around the vehicle and the surrounding area is shown in real-time 3D graphics and at the same time shows what is happening on the road in front of the vehicle. Combined with energy lines, these detailed real-time images bring the interior to life and allow passengers to discover and interact with the environment in a natural way with different views of the outside world. Three wonders of nature – the Huangshan Mountains of China, the 115-meter-high Hyperion Tree found in the United States and the pink salt Lake Hillier from Australia – can be explored in detail. Passengers become aware of various forces of nature that are not normally visible to the human eye, such as magnetic fields, bioenergy or ultraviolet light.
In the VISION AVTR, the interface adapts to the user – and not the other way around. By simply lifting the hand, an interface is projected onto the palm of the hand, allowing passengers to interact intuitively with the interior of the VISION AVTR. For example, through simple gestures, passengers choose the right ambient soundtrack or between different immersive experiences. This allows the world of Pandora to be explored within the VISION AVTR. In the process, one’s own perspective merges with that of a banshee or a direhorse and the occupant experiences a flight or run through the Pandoran forest.
Extension of the senses through vibration and sound
The seats make the surroundings around the vehicle experienceable through haptic feedback. Vibrations adapted to the situation transmit information in a non-visual way and make objects noticeable. Each seat has eight exciters. These create vibrations that make the occupants feel the outside world or their own pulse. Supported by realistic 360-degree sound, reality and fiction merge into a unique experience. Lifelike sounds perfectly matched to the different situations let the passengers experience their surroundings directly. Due to the spatial 3D sound, a sound source can be precisely localized as in the wild. Completely intuitively, the user recognizes on which side of the vehicle, for example, a stream flows by or where bird voices sound. Instead of shielding the occupants from the outside world, the VISION AVTR brings the environment into the vehicle and strengthens the bond between human and nature.
Family in focus
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 in particular a sense of connectedness and security in the rear seats.
The so-called Magic Pool is integrated into the back of the front seats and offers learning-oriented gaming and a child-friendly augmented reality experience of the surroundings for the passengers in the rear. Interesting points along the route, such as mountains, rivers or sights, are presented informatively and age-appropriately.
Extremely confident and completely without emissions
With four high-performance and near-wheel-built electric motors, the VISION AVTR embodies a particularly agile implementation of the vision of a dynamic luxury sedan. With a combined engine power of more than 350 kW, the VISION AVTR sets a new benchmark for EQ Power. Thanks to the intelligent and fully variable torque distribution, the power of the four fully individually controllable motors is not only managed in the best possible way in terms of driving dynamics, but above all in a highly efficient manner. The innovative all-wheel drive with torque vectoring enables completely new freedom and guarantees driving dynamics at the highest level while at the same time providing the best possible active safety. This means that each wheel can be driven separately and depending on the driving situation. Due to the possibility to drive the front and rear axles simultaneously or in opposite ways, the VISION AVTR can move sideways by approximately 30 degrees, in contrast to conventional vehicles. The so-called “crab movement” gives the concept vehicle a reptile-like appearance also for its motions.
Organic battery technology with high energy and flexible structure
The VISION AVTR was developed in line with its innovative electric drive. This is based on a particularly powerful and compact high-voltage battery. For the first time, the revolutionary battery technology is based on graphene-based organic cell chemistry and thus completely eliminates rare, toxic and expensive earths such as metals. Electromobility thus becomes independent of fossil resources. An absolute revolution is also the 100% recyclability through composting due to the materiality. As a result, Mercedes-Benz underlines the high relevance of a future circular economy in the raw materials sector.
In addition to an exponentially high energy density – compared to today’s battery systems with up to 1200 Wh/liter – the technology also impresses with its exceptional fast-charging capability via automated, conductive charging technology. This means that the battery will be fully recharged in less than 15 minutes. The innovative technology also allows maximum flexibility with regard to the construction space: with a local minimum of 94 mm, the battery adapts ideally to the shared space vehicle concept, thus maximizing the multifunctional interior. With a capacity of around 110 kWh, the VISION AVTR enables an electric range of more than 700 kilometers. By recuperating during coasting and braking, the high-voltage battery can be recharged with a higher efficiency than established systems while driving, thus contributing to the high energy efficiency of the overall system.
The real potential of this technology is currently in basic research. All in all, the VISION AVTR marks another important step towards sustainable zero-emission mobility in the luxury class. With the concept car, Mercedes-Benz is showing completely new possibilities to make large and luxurious automobiles marketable and environmentally and socially compatible in the future.
Masterpiece of efficiency
At Mercedes-Benz, the consideration of efficiency goes far beyond the drive concept, because with increasing digitalization, the performance of a large number of so-called secondary consumers also comes into focus – along with their efficient energy supply, without negatively affecting the drive power of the vehicle itself. Energy consumption per computing operation is already a key target in the development of new computer chips. This trend will continue in the coming years with the growth of sensors and artificial intelligence in the automotive industry. The neuro-inspired approach of the VISION AVTR, including so-called neuromorphic hardware, promises to minimize the power consumption of sensors, chips and other components to a few watts. Their energy supply is provided by the cached current of the integrated solar plates on the back of the VISION AVTR. The 33 multi-directionally movable surface elements act as “bionic flaps”.
“Giving back to the city” – vehicle to grid
Thanks to the “Vehicle to Grid” function, the VISION AVTR fits seamlessly to the future, electromobile ecosystem by bringing energy back to the public from its highly efficient batteries and controlled by its artificial intelligence when needed.