Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a new autonomous concept car at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, debuting what it calls the VISION AVTR as part of Daimler CEO Ola Källenius' keynote speech.
Inspired by James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster film Avatar, Mercedes-Benz went so far as to partner with the film's creators to design the AVTR (an abbreviation of 'Advanced Vehicle Transformation').
Intended as a look at "mobility in the distant future", the car aims to seamlessly merge the inside with the outside as an "emotional whole", as well as using biometric tech to allow the driver to become one with the car.
The sculptural design features no conventional doors and no steering wheel, rather relying on the driver to place their hand on a central control unit, activating the vehicle via their own heartbeat or breathing patterns.
From there, the driver will have access to the car's key controls through a menu projected directly onto the palm of their hand.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the car can also crab-walk sideways thanks to "the possibility to drive the front and rear axles in the same or opposite direction," allowing the VISION AVTR to "move sideways by approximately 30 degrees".
The car also promises a combined engine power of more than 350kW thanks to four near-wheel-built electric motors.
On its exterior, the car boasts illuminated wheel spokes and 33 "bionic flaps" at its rear that are reminiscent of reptile scales and can communicate with the driver through "naturally flowing movements in subtle gestures".
The interior of the vehicle is supposedly inspired by the Na'vi (a fictional people from the film) and their connection with their natural surroundings on the fictional planet of Pandora.
The triangular centre console symbolises the Tree of Souls, a sacred place referenced in the film, with the unusual design extending to the cocoon-like backseat and hammock-adjacent front seats.
The car can also detect when a family is inside, allowing the parents in the front seat to monitor the wellbeing of their children in the backseat through display projections, as well as offering a so-called "Magic Pool" of "learning-oriented gaming and a child-friendly augmented reality experience".
"The aim of the VISION AVTR is to show us a signpost for a liveable future, even if it will probably never be built. The VISION AVTR makes speculative science visible and tangible," explained Alexander Mankowsky, futurologist at Mercedes-Benz.