Mercedes-Benz unveiled a concept car based on the movie franchise “Avatar” on Monday (January 6), featuring scale-like flaps and technology to recognise drivers by their heartbeat, the carmaker says. The vehicle called VISION AVTR, which also stands for ADVANCED VEHICLE TRANSFORMATION, claims to exhibit “a completely new interaction between human, machine, and nature,” a news release said.

It does not feature a steering wheel but rather a “control unit” that recognises the driver by their heartbeat and breathing, Mercedes-Benz says. Among its most striking features are the 33 “bionic flaps” at the rear of the car that move independently.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept car, inspired by the Avatar movies
The Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept car, inspired by the Avatar movies

Drivers can select menu options from images projected onto the palm of their hand and the curved screen display shows the fictional Avatar world of Pandora. Head of Mercedes-Benz cars Ola Källenius said the partnership was about climate responsibility. “The whole automotive industry and at Mercedes, we’re pivoting. We got to make sure we solve the CO2 problem,” he said.

“If you look at the message behind the entertainment in the ‘Avatar’ movies, you have that very strong message that we felt, here we got a very good fit. Let’s just do it,” he added. The car’s front and rear axles could move in opposite directions meaning it could move sideways like a crab, by around 30 degrees.

Its batteries would also be made of recyclable materials based on “graphene-based organic cell chemistry”, meaning the batteries are compostable and recyclable. The 2009 movie “Avatar” was one of the highest-grossing movies of all time and sequels are planned for 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. The original features humanoid creatures defending their planet from humans trying to take a precious material within their idyllic homeland.

“The ‘Avatar’ film is a widely known brand and it’s focused on the ideas of sustainability and our connection to nature as human beings,” said the franchise’s director James Cameron. “It’s almost like it’s a piece of philosophy made tangible, which is I think it’s really cool,” he added.

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