Over the weekend at Munich’s IAA Mobility 2021 vehicle showcase, Mercedes-Benz touted its ridiculous Vision AVTR concept car that, among other far-fetched features, includes a brain-computer interface (BCI) headset capable of converting a driver’s neural activity into real-time console commands like temperature control, A/C speed, and interior lighting customizations.
Although Mercedes’ concept ride first debuted at last year’s Consumer Electronics Expo (CES) in Las Vegas, this is the first we’re hearing of the thing, which comes via a partnership with — wait for it — Disney. According to an official press release from Daimler, the mock-up transportation’s BCI is “similar to the neuronal connection between the Na’vi and the nature in the visionary Hollywood blockbuster Avatar.”
Avatar... AVTR. Get it? C’mon, Mercedes-Benz. The “Avacar” was right there the whole time.
Emphasis on “concept” car — Mercedes says the name also stands for “Advanced Vehicle Transformation,” so you can sit on that one for a while, too. Although the concept car’s BCI headset does, in fact, already work to some degree, don’t expect to see ESP cars on the highways anytime soon. And thank God for that, because we can’t even begin to list all the ways this could prove to be a disaster for both digital data and real-world safety.
Actually useful BCIs are already a thing — While Mercedes-Benz may be showing off its Avatar-influenced concept car, actually useful, revolutionary brain-computer interfaces have been around for some time. Most recently, researchers at Brown University successfully demonstrated a wireless BCI device in human patients, a breakthrough for the medical industry and promising news for people with mobility issues.
Don’t forget Elon’s Neuralink — Of course, there’s also Elon Musk’s Neuralink, which is still attempting to convince everyone that its late-to-the-party research is cutting-edge stuff. Not too long back, Musk showed off a monkey able to wirelessly play video games using only its mind hooked to prototype Neuralink tech... something outside researchers were quick to point out is a technology that has existed in some form since around 2002.
We’re not in too much of a hurray to see BCI tech in Tesla’s, but we would love to see a Tesla that looked more like the Vision AVTR. We hope Musk’s paying attention.