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VISION-AVTR

By Joseph Miller | Feb 4, 2019.

“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:”—Job 12:7

Where do we take it from here? This is a question every major car manufacturer must ask. Even when they’re bringing in the bucks, they must think imaginatively in order to stay ahead of the game.

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Since the invention of the smart phone, tech firms have been looking for the next breakthrough in consumer tech. Today, an increasingly important discussion is the merge of car and digital tech.

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Historically, the concept car is the “go to vehicle” inventors and car makers alike use to bring new ideas to life. Most concept cars aren’t intended for full-scale production, but they prototype innovative styles with the purpose of gauging consumer tastes. Although engineers continue drawing inspiration from nature, their results remain a far cry from the clever designs God has placed throughout creation.

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Wild Car!

In the recent 2020 Consumer Electronic Show, several concept cars debuted. From industry leaders Honda, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz & Sony, among many others, attendees got their first-hand look at many wild & futuristic designs. All these vehicles displayed minimalistic driving controls and, to some extent, autonomous driving technology. Most of the cars on display were powered by highly efficient rechargeable batteries.

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VISION AVTR, presented by Mercedes-Benz, is one of my favorites. The car points far into the future, highlighting new ways of connecting people and machines.

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Quite Imaginative

VISION AVTR sparks imaginative thinking. The approach they’ve taken with this car lifts the experience of driving to be more connected with the natural environment. To that end, the team drew much inspiration from nature.

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Their idea was to help passengers become more aware of aspects of nature that aren’t normally visible, such as magnetic fields, ultraviolet light, and glowing plants. For example, VISION AVTR has pulsating blue fiber-optic light-bands, making the car look like it’s been grown. Wow! These lines resemble pollen-guides bees use to quickly locate the nectar of flowers. Pollen-guides, though, are normally invisible because they are designed to reflect ultraviolet light.

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The neon blue tones also look like the blue lights of bioluminescence mushrooms and fish. Depending on the surrounding light, the car changes its color from dark blue to subtle light blue. This feature mirrors the behavior of bioluminescent deep-sea creatures. The firefly squid, for example, alters the light it generates to match the luminosity of its environment.

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Cutting-edge Tech

As a leading pioneer, Mercedes-Benz also incorporated several cutting-edge technologies into the car. For example, the car has four electric motors installed as close to the wheels as possible, minimizing energy loss. Each one is individually controllable but can work together allowing perfectly optimized torque distribution. The total engine power is more than 469 hp, setting a new benchmark for the hybrid cars of Mercedes-Benz.

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VISION AVTR can also drive the front and rear axles in opposite ways, which enables it to drive sideways by approximately 30 degrees—diagonally–kind of like a crab!

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Adding quirkiness are 33 multi-directionally movable “bionic flaps” on the back, similar in appearance to reptile scales. Using special software, the plates move and tilt in response to the direction that car is traveling. This builds on the idea of making connection between the car and outside world. The plates give the car a personality of its own. In future cars, fun design features like these bionic flaps will be integrated with solar energy capture systems.

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The battery tech is also quite innovative. The VISION AVTR uses a 100% recyclable battery, which is based on a graphene-based cell chemistry. It doesn’t use expensive metals like nickel or cobalt. On top of all this, the battery impresses with its exceptionally fast charging speeds–it can recharge in less than 15 minutes!

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Recycle to the Max!

Bringing luxury and sustainability even closer together is another goal of Mercedes-Benz. To that end, they turned to nature for insights. Nature has perfect cycles, nothing is wasted. One organism’s waste is another’s food. We can reimagine waste as a by-product. For example, by-products of dinner are food scraps and peels and bones. It’s compost, not exactly waste. The by-product of a construction site is firewood, and other left-over materials can be used in small projects. Instead of just thinking of garbage as something to just get rid of, we can view it as an opportunity.

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Already, all Mercedes-Benz models are 95 percent recyclable. But the interior of AVTRA incorporates some new sustainable materials. For example, the seats are made of DINAMICA leather, which is made of recycled clothing, flags and plastic bottles. The floor is decorated with a wood called Karuun, which gives the interior a warm, natural feel. Karuun comes from Indonesia and grows very fast. Supporting its cultivation also helps local economies and promotes biodiversity.

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They nailed it. As believers, we recognized our responsibility to look after God’s creation. In His original perfect creation, Adam was placed in Eden “to work and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Like the good steward in Luke 12, we should reflect the heart of our God in the use of all the resources He’s given us. A 95% recyclable car is a step in the right direction!

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Beyond

The new car tech of VISION AVTR—the flower-like contours, neon light-stripes, and bionic flats, although inspired by nature–do not significantly add to the car’s functionality. God’s creatures win the day here over man’s designs. Many aesthetically appealing designs of nature are correlated with meeting an organism’s specific needs.

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This is clearly seen in bioluminescent organisms. The deep-sea squid Octopoteuthis deletron, scientists believe, sheds portions of its luminous arms to distract predators. As the detached limb twitches and flashes in front of its wide-eyed predator, the squid makes a stealthy getaway…That is very strange!

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Small crustaceans use a strange bacterial slushy in the same way as squid use ink. When threatened, they’ll expel a cloud of glowing material, which scares away predators. Many creatures also use bioluminescence in offensive ways, such as to lure, stun or confuse prey. They’re fun to watch, but the ability to glow is also central to their survival.    

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Chameleon Wow!

The Chameleon presents another example where functionality intersects aesthetics. Scientists believe chameleons change their colors to reflect their moods. In doing this, they send various signals to other chameleons. For example, darker colors tend to mean anger, and lighter colors are used to attract a mate. This is similar to the way engineers designed VISION AVTR to change its lighting in response to “vital signs of the occupants.” Weird.

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Scientists think a chameleon also changes colors because it helps them regulate their body temperature. Dark colors absorb more light than light colors. So, chameleons use their skin like a thermostat to better control body temperature. If cold, it deepens the skin tone. Whereas if it wants to cool off, it changes to a lighter shade of green. Again, the beauty is connected with purpose. Wow!

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In God’s Creation, many fascinating designs go hand-in-hand with meeting a creature’s individual needs. The interesting and “speculative science” of VISION AVTR car merely brushes the surface. Not even Mercedes-Benz can hold a candle to many of the beautiful and quite functional works of God.

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