CES 2020

New Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept car inspired by Avatar

Mercedes has created a new concept car that is otherworldly.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

A new concept car from Mercedes-Benz is inspired by the possibility of future modes of transportation as much as it's been influenced by the movie Avatar.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR, revealed at CES, is a result of a partnership with the creative minds behind the movie "Avatar" and the luxury automaker. It was inspired by the world of Pandora, an inhabitable moon with a lush ecosystem where "Avatar" takes place.

Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR 

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz


The entire Vision AVTR structure is designed to be inside-out and emotional. It has a stretched "One Bow" design and organic language. Its exterior is covered in 33 "bionic flaps" that are reminiscent of reptile scales. Mercedes says that the flaps can communicate with the driver through subtle movements.

Instead of traditional controls for various functions in the cockpit and a steering wheel, the concept car has a multifunctional control element in the center console that operates by placing a hand over the control unit. A driver is recognized by their heartbeat and breathing.

By lifting their hand, the user sees a menu selection projected onto their palm. The user can then choose between functionalities. A curved display module separates the passengers from the outside world.

The car's cabin is filled with DINAMICA leather, a vegan microfiber that is sustainable throughout its entire manufacturing process. The floor is covered in Karuun, a rattan wood that grows quickly and is harvested by hand in Indonesia.

Mercedes is showing off a battery made of graphene-based organic cell chemistry in the machine. The battery is free of rare earth metals and is instead made of compostable material, which makes it completely recyclable.

The car has front and rear axles that can operate in the same or opposite direction making the vehicle able to move sideways approximately 30 degrees in the style of a crab movement.

Hyundai will debut its new concept electric vehicle at the Geneva International Motor Show in March.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has a Prophecy and they will bring it to live in March during the Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland. The new concept electric vehicle will debut on March 3.

The Korean automaker says that the concept car will deploy Hyundai's Sensuous Sportiness" design philosophy with "graceful curves flowing over broad rear flanks that provide excellent aerodynamics." Sounds sexy.

A boat-tail line created by the rear quarter panels have an integrated spoiler and pixel lamp taillights joining them on the back side of the car.

"Prophecy does not follow trends. It accentuates timeless beauty that will stand the test of time," said SangYup Lee, Head of Hyundai Global Design Center. "Its iconic design stands to expand Hyundai's design spectrum toward even broader horizons."

Hyundai says that the name "Prophecy" reflects the concept's purpose, defining it as the direction of future Hyundai designs including the future EV lineup.

Prophecy will be part of a larger reveal featuring additional information regarding the automaker's adoption of electric vehicle technology. Hyundai recently revealed plans to add 13 alternatively fueled vehicles to the company's lineup by 2022.

Fox Sports will employ new drone technology as they work to innovate the way NASCAR coverage is shown to viewers.

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports

NASCAR is back for 2020, with the Daytona 500 kicking off the newly title sponsor-less Cup Series tomorrow in Daytona. For Fox Sports, NASCAR's television broadcast partner for the first half of the premier Cup season, Daytona is a field laboratory for trying out new technology for motorsport storytelling.

For the past few years, there has been a particular focus on drone technology. First it was a tethered drone, flying along the backstretch but connected to the ground. Then, last year, Fox flew an untethered drone for the first time. This was a major accomplishment, requiring coordination and permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the track, law enforcement at all levels, as well as the Daytona Airport which is literally adjacent to the track.

Fox Sports green screen Lindsay Czarniak Fox Sports reporter Lindsay Czarniak stands in front of new green screen technology employed during the 2019 NASCAR season.Photo by Jordan Golson

It was, according to Fox executives, the first time an untethered drone was flown legally in a "temporary flight restriction zone".

Fox Sports has long been a pioneer in on-air tech, launching the yellow First Down line in football more than 25 years ago — which is now standard across football — as well as other innovations that were a little less successful, like the FoxTrax glowing puck in hockey.

Last year, Fox launched a new green-screen "virtual studio" where an entire broadcast studio was generated with augmented reality. That required new tech to insert artificial backgrounds on the green screens of the set between the camera shot and the control room, as well as new makeup techniques to offset the green on presenters faces.

Though the untethered drone last year was an accomplishment, it didn't give the Fox Sports production team video shots it didn't have before. It floated over the grass infield of the backstretch at Daytona — well away from fans and the cars, which it wasn't allowed to fly over. It worked as a test, which was great. But it wasn't footage that couldn't have been achieved in a more traditional manner.

"We had this thing out there and it worked and it was good quality," said Michael Davies, senior vice president of Field & Tech Operations, Fox Sports. "But, we could have gotten that from a jib. So we scratched our heads and said is it really worth it?"

This year, they have an 80-foot crane between turns one and two that was partially inspired by the shots the drone was able to get last year. "You'd be hard-pressed to tell that it's not a drone," said Davies.

But to make things a little more exciting, Fox has partnered with Beverly Hills Aerials, a drone firm that specializes in television and movie drone shots. Below is some footage from their test shoot during a NASCAR practice session at Daytona on Friday.

They built a custom racing drone that can go as fast as 80 mph. It's little more than some propellers, a battery good for six or seven minutes of flying time, a flight camera for the pilot, and a GoPro Hero 4 shooting at 720p and 60fps. It is surprising that the team would be using such an old camera (GoPro is selling the Hero 8 these days), but reliability is most important and since it works for them, they keep using it. Also on board is a transmitter that sends the GoPro footage straight to the control room and that's about it.

"It's a racing drone. And with racing drones, your platform is your drone. There's no gimbal and the camera is totally fixed," said Davies in an interview this week. "The movement of the camera comes from the movement of the drone. There's no two-man operation. We needed something that was faster and more agile."

The goal, says Fox, is to help put the viewer in places they've never been before. They've pioneered things like the Gopher cam, a camera literally inside the hole on a golf course, as well as the lipstick cam in baseball to show interesting views of the pitcher or batter.

"We want to cover the game from the inside out, versus the outside in," explains Davies. "Typical coverage is cameras placed around the field of play or track or whatever. What makes it interesting is a little bit more access in terms of putting cameras in places people haven't seen."

Thanks to the rise in the popularity of video games, which can put a virtual camera wherever you want, viewers aren't satisfied with static camera views. Even in-car cameras are considered commonplace these days, so Fox is putting cameras right on the helmet of the driver, making it even more personal.

"We can push in terms of in-car technology to give people a more intimate view of the race," explains Davies. "Fundamentally, that makes my job and what I'm able to do at Fox kind of interesting." Though the camera might be used during the race, he's also excited for other things that the speed of the drone, as well as the unique camera-angle, makes possible.

"After what we see Saturday and Sunday, we'll come up with other regimens of things we'll be able to do," says Davies. "It's literally a flying camera, topping out at 80 mph." That's not enough to chase a 200 mph stock car down the back stretch, but it's enough to be one of the fastest cameras that Fox has ever deployed.

"It's interesting to keep finding different things to do," he said. "I think from this one, there's gonna be no mistaking it. This is what I'm excited about. There's no other way to get these shots."

Below is the video feed from Fox Sports featuring the crash at the end of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Nascar Racing Experience 300 on Saturday afternoon.

The ability for the drone to fly during the Daytona 500 is unique, not just because of the technology, but because of the presence of President Donald Trump who will serve as grand marshal. Ahead of the race, the FAA and the Secret Service are restricting all flights within 30 miles of Daytona International Speedway unless they are approved law enforcement aircraft or military aircraft directly supporting the U.S. Secret Service or the Office of the President.

Looking up at the race will also allow attendees to see a flyover from the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds — their 10th in a row and their 11th overall —and the Goodyear Blimp.