Mercedes' 'impressive' invisible car

A joyride through city streets turns a few heads with a "clever" illusion. How did the German automobile manufacturer pull it off?

To make the statement that the new Mercedes F-Cell is a no emissions vehicle, the company created a special shield that makes it appear invisible.
(Image credit: YouTube)

The video: In a move that appeals to both Harry Potter fans and environmentalists, Mercedes is marketing its new F-Cell as a no-omissions vehicle that's "virtually invisible to the environment." To get the point across, the carmaker made one of the cars "invisible," and sent it out into German streets (see a video below). Of course, it's really a "clever" illusion — the vehicle's left side is covered in a special sheet lined with LED displays, which show streaming images captured by a Canon 5D Mark II camera fitted on the car's opposite flank. This "gives pedestrians the effect of being able to see right through the car," says Elizabeth Fish at PC World, though it's "a bit confusing if you happen to be another driver." The campaign is promoting Mercedes' new hydrogen-powered drive system, which produces zero emissions save for environmentally friendly water vapor. The vehicle likely won't be available for commercial production until 2014, but the stunt is turning heads already.

The reaction: "David Copperfield never pulled off a trick quite like this," says Matt Peckham at TIME. That said: The results aren't perfect — the wheels are still there, and the LED image is a a little grainy, "but the net effect is probably a heartfelt 'whoa' if you happen to catch sight of this thing zipping by." Yep, the onlookers are definitively awed, says Chris Davis at Slashgear, but the "most impressive" part is when the Mercedes is parked out in the forest. It's incredibly hard to spot the vehicle until it jumps out at you "when the panels cycle through bright colors." It's no wonder the U.S. military is considering similar cloaking technology for its tanks. Take a look:

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us