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Mercedes-Benz reveals its 'car of the future' (and we're slightly terrified)

When it comes to imagining what the future might look like, people often start with cars. The flying cars of endless science fiction films might not be a reality yet, but automobile manufacturers' fascination with futuristic design seems as strong as ever. And if that future looks anything like Mercedes Benz's latest concept, we're not sure we're quite ready for it.

Created in partnership with the team behind the AVATAR series, the VISION AVTR (because vowels are so last year) was revealed at this year's CES 2020 conference. Inspired by the universe of the fantasy franchise, the concept features a number of truly unusual design decisions. If you fancy making a futuristic concept of your own, check out our best 3D modelling software

We'll get to the rest of the design shortly, but first we need to discuss the scales. Yes, the car's rear end has scales. Does a car need scales? We get that it's based on Pandora, AVATAR's fictional world of reptilian creatures (sorry, 'Naʼvi'), but still – scales. 

Mercedes-Benz calls them “bionic flaps”, which can be used to communicate with people outside the car. As if the flaps weren't creature-like enough, the company describes their movement as "crab-like". That's it – we're officially scared of a car. 

Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR

The car it all it's, er, glory (Image credit: Mercedes-Benz)

As for the rest of the design, Mercedes-Benz says the VISION AVTR "combines interior, exterior and UX design on an unprecedented scale." The spherical (!) wheels allow the car to move sideways or diagonally, while the steering wheel is replaced by a "multifunction control element" (below). Not dystopian enough? Well, the car can also recognise the driver by their heartbeat and breathing. 

Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR

There's your steering wheel (Image credit: Mercedes-Benz)

Much like last year's love-it-or-hate-it Tesla Cybertruck, the design appears to have split the internet down the middle. "Beautiful, flawless design," one YouTuber comments, while another simply adds, "this is gross". "Yeah the designers were definitely high and watching some sci-fi movie when creating this," another comments, which could well be true – Mercedes-Benz has already admitted the sci-fi movie part.

While we applaud Mercedes-Benz's imagination, the alien-like design leaves us feeling a little squeamish. Of course, being a concept design, the VISION AVTR may never end up hitting the road. For some slightly less dystopian vehicular design news, take a look at Maserati's brand new logo. (It doesn't have scales.)

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Daniel Piper

Daniel Piper is senior news editor at Creative Bloq, and an authority on all things art, design, branding and tech. He has a particular penchant for Apple products – some corners of the internet might call him an 'iSheep', but he's fine with this. It doesn't bother him at all. Why would it? They're just really nicely designed products, okay? Daniel is also a comedian and national poetry slam champion, and his favourite Bond is, obviously, Sean Connery.