Invisible car

[video link]

To promote its new B-Class car, Mercedes made it "invisible." Essentially, they draped one side of it in a fabric of LEDs that displayed an image of the scene behind the car, creating the illusion of invisibility. (This approach is similar to the active camouflage prototypes demonstrated by the University of Tokyo and elsewhere.) While a startling demo, it's not very practical -- it required 1,100 pounds of gear inside and $263,000 worth of LEDs. "Invisible Mercedes brings James Bond technology to life" (Motoramic, thanks Gabe Adiv!)


  1. This is several kinds of awesome.  (I can’t recall where I first saw this ad, but I’m glad it made it here)

    -abs wishes he’d been one of those bystanders when this thing came by, but he wasn’t

  2. Also you can totally see it. It’s that fuzzy area shaped like a Chevy Astrovan with the wheels sticking out the bottom.

  3. This reminds me of a cool article I read a while ago about how we might someday achieve a real “invisibility cloak” with a much more advanced version of this sort of method (using something like holographic LEDs that show different colors/intensities depending on the viewing angle, plus an array of equally tiny 3D cameras recording incoming light in all directions at each point on the cloak): Being Invisible

  4. Pitch meeting for the marketing team:

    Marketing person 1: “This car looks like shit. How can we possibly promote this thing?”

    Marketing person 2: “Haha, right? Maybe we could just make it invisible or something!”

    Marketing person 1: “o_O”

  5. While a startling demo, it’s not very practical

    Kinda like the car. Since there’s only a handful of (hydrogen) gas stations in the U.S. for these things, I’m guessing they’re not aiming for “practical.” What’s the fuel scene in Germany/EU? I’m excited to see what the 2014 update will bring (esp. how it will influence competitors’ engineering), but the 700-bar fuel load gives me pause about ever getting into one…

    1. I was thinking you must be wrong about the no H filling stations thing.  I’m sitting in the middle of Manhattan and figured there must be a few near me.  Alas…  As best I can tell from Google the nearest ones are in White Plains and near JFK airport, both at least an hour drive away.

    2. There is one about 30 minutes from me. It’s the only “public” one in the UK (I think it’s still the only one). Does 5000 and 10000 PSI. They were talking about doing the M4 corridor.

    3. These vehicles will take off in a big way as soon as a company puts out viable commercial “hydrogen at home” tech.  Currently I think Honda is the closest on this front, but their station still costs ~$6000 and requires half that again in maintenance every few years I think.

  6. The illusion seems to break down a bit in bright sunlight but it is amazing in the night shots.

  7. Just because something is “invisible to the environment” doesn’t mean it’s ecologically sound. Just look at the carbon footprint the Predator left behind after that self-destruct doohickey went off.

  8. >”creating the illusion of invisibility.”

    Wait, how is that an “illusion” — common meaning, looking as if, but not really, invisibility.

    If you can’t see it, it’s invisible, right? Just because YOU can see it, doesn’t mean it’s not invisible to me.

    If I’ve been tricked into looking up, and it’s down — it’s invisible.
    If I’ve been tricked into looking for particular visual clues that aren’t there — it’s invisible.
    If I’ve been tricked by having my brain centers hacked so that my visual cortex does not register objects with four wheels and a particular body-shape — it’s not an illusion, it’s invisible. I  can’t see the d–n thing.

    I’m particularly thinking of the starfish-creatures in Peter Watts’  “Blindsight” — and I guess, a whole bunch of other issues, now that I’m actually seeing the title, again…


    1. Wait, how is that an “illusion” — common meaning, looking as if, but not really, invisibility…

      If you can’t see it, it’s invisible, right?

      But you CAN see it, you just might not notice it because it has taken on the appearance of the background behind it. That’s more “camouflage” than invisibility, unless you consider a chameleon invisible.

  9. Not very practical, and I have never once been in a situation where it was to my benefit for other drivers to not see me.

    1. I’ve got an old Nissan that seems to display this behavior. I’ve had all the computers checked, they can’t find the problem. And while it gets the blood pumping at times, I would have to agree: it’s neither practical nor beneficial.

  10. I bet the environment saw plenty of that car as it was being built.

    If Mercedes really wanted to do something new, they could start a program to retrofit vehicles with more efficient technology.

  11. It’s only invisible from one vantage point. Not very useful outside of filming a commercial. 

    I had many people suggest this idea to me when I wore my Video Coat. It isn’t any more practical on a person than a car, though.

      1.  Many people think that it could be useful outside of filming a commercial. They don’t quite think it through.

        1.  I think it’s kind along the lines of the “carbon nanotube” everything.  I keep reading about a ton of things that would work so much better, or even at all with carbon nano tech.  Like super capacitors.  I’m not saying the ideas aren’t good, but right now we can’t make carbon nanotubes cheap or easily.  Much like this technology.  However that doesn’t mean one day the parts and technology won’t get to a price point to make it viable.  Then at that time someone will have already worked out the major problems because they have been testing out the old tech for several years/decades.

  12. Now if only they’d sell the B class in the US.  But oh no, we get the friggin’ GL class monstrosity instead.

  13. I could see some military applications for this, where you want something to be ‘less visible’ to someone, and know their position to adjust the camera perspective.   I’ll bet it would work better on a boat, where all you have to do is project a horizon.

  14. Judging from the sameness of most cars today I’d say we already have invisible cars.

    1. Uh-uh, I’m not falling for that one again. This time I want more than the dealer’s word that there’s really a car there before I plop down any cash.

  15. This is all well and good until somebody crosses the street thinking the traffic is clear and winds up a bloody statistic. 

    I’m mostly joking, I realize this was just a marketing thing and not an actual product.   Still I think it’d be funny to hear what Mercedes engineers would say if this all went south. “Well your honor,  we thought it would be really neat to create a car that people… couldn’t… see. Yeah I’m going to jail aren’t I? “

  16. Invisible car? Where?

    My elderly parents already have one; it’s called a beige ’94 Oldsmobile.

  17. So that old insurance claim “an invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car, and disappeared” can be true after all?

  18. $263,000 worth of LEDs?!? Does that mean that LED wall at the back of club cost something like a million dollars?

  19. I know that intersection at the end quite well – it’s the Reeperbahn in Hamburg.  That gas station makes a mean currywurst.

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