Avatar Wiki
Avatar Wiki
Look. You're supposed to be winning the hearts and minds of the natives. Isn't that the whole point of your little puppet show? If you walk like them, you talk like them, they'll trust you.

The Avatar Program, also known as the AVTR Program, was a project created by the RDA and managed by its Sci-Ops wing. The program enabled humans to explore the remote and hostile environment of Pandora without endangering human life. The technique was similar to the use of remotely operated robotic vehicles for exploration. However, the Avatar Program used biological human/Na'vi hybrid bodies called avatars specifically engineered for operation in the Pandoran environment. The operator was able to use the avatar body as if it was their own, enhancing freedom of movement and increasing work output.

The Avatar Program was launched some time between 2084 and 2136,[1] and produced 20 avatars between then and 2154.[2] The avatars were also used as an attempt for the RDA to have Na'vi cultural ambassadors, similar to The Ambassador Program. One particular avatar used by Jake Sully was an attempt to negotiate with the Omatikaya clan and convince them to leave the Hometree. The Avatar Program was shut down in August 2154 by Parker Selfridge after negotiations failed and Tsu'tey's war party retaliated against the RDA for bulldozing the Tree of Voices thus, the first Pandoran War started.

SecOps Avatars

Sec-Ops avatars

According to Avatar: Reckoning (canonicity unclear), following the return of the RDA and the Second Pandoran War, the Avatar Program was restarted. Many more avatars were created and the cost to do so had significantly decreased by then. The use of avatars spread from the Sci-Ops to other branches of the organization such as Sec-Ops, creating the Avatar Defense Unit (ADU).

Prior to their expulsion, the RDA also initiated the creation of Recombinants, fully autonomous beings with the memories and personalities of notable deceased Sec-Ops members uploaded into them.


Under strong pressure from the UN, the scientists and the general public, the RDA agreed to set a program up to enhance the communications between the humans and the Na’vi. At first, this consisted solely of an Indigenous Terrain program to study Na’vi culture and language and attempt to establish communications between the humans and the Na'vi. The practical difficulties soon showed a need for a more profound means of communications between the human and the Na’vi species.

The Avatar Program was originally intended to create mine workers who did not need environmental protection systems and could eat Pandoran foodstuffs, but the cost of the mental link system remained too high for the numbers needed. Avatars were then used to study the Na'vi and the Pandoran ecosystem with the hope that the avatars could be used as ambassadors, aided by their resemblance to the Na'vi.[3]

The Avatar Program is described as being a classified "top secret" project.[4]

Invention / Technology[]

RDA research already established the possibility of direct mental communication between humans. RDA scientist Dr. Cordell Lovecraft was given the task of carrying his Dark Dreamer project, which sought to transmit mental processes – “thoughts” – to humans at a distance, as well as interspecies mental communication.

Initial dissection of Na’vi specimens found that although the Na’vi show a surprising degree of external parallel evolution, their internal anatomy and metabolic processes were substantially different from that of humans. The Na’vi brain in particular, with its external neural queue and three cerebral hemispheres (versus two for humans), proved a daunting obstacle.

Building on work with brain-wiped primates and condemned criminals, Dr. Lovecraft was able to demonstrate that full sensory bonding could be established between human twins, human-animal hybrids that shared common DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA), and eventually human/Na’vi hybrids with "resonant" genetic DNA/NVTranscriptase blueprints.

Since the Na’vi cellular nucleus organelle does not use nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) to encode genetic information, producing a ‘translation table’ that matched a specific human's DNA to a Na'vi NVTranscriptase equivalent closely enough to allow a level of neural resonance strong enough for congruent mental communication to occur required many months of processing on massively parallel "zettaflop" photonic computing arrays as well as many failed experiments; some of which caused severe permanent psychological trauma to volunteer subjects.

Eventually the Avatar Program succeeded in producing the first viable hybrids between completely unrelated species – a considerable achievement since, as Dr Lovecraft famously remarked, humans are “far more closely related genetically to garden slugs than to Na’vi.”

Avatar compound

Various link beds at Hell's Gate.

With the aid of thought amplification/transmission "link beds" as well as customized nanotech receiver/transmitter nodes grown into avatar brains from their earliest blastomere stage of development, human "drivers" can now operate their avatars at distances of tens of kilometers. These distances can be reduced in areas where the Pandoran magnetic fields are very strong, such as near the many flux vortices.

Originally part of RDA's Na’vi outreach program instigated at the behest of Earth's government authorities, the Avatar Program has moved from being a poorly-defined xenobiological experiment controlled by Earth-based bureaucrats, ivory-tower academics, and populist politicians to become a tightly managed engineering project incorporating the most advanced technology from RDA's research and development laboratories.

Dr. Lovecraft has been nominated for multiple Nobel Prizes in biological sciences, but the nominations have invariably been withdrawn following protests from human rights organizations, the UN Pan-Faith Council, and animal rights activists.[3]

Avatar Creation[]


Jake Sully in the Avatar Program.

The Avatar Program combines genetic information from the native race of Pandoran humanoids, the Na'vi, with human DNA from a selected human operator or controller, also known as a "driver".

Avatar drivers are selected on Earth from volunteer pools using incredibly stringent selection criteria, requiring high motor coordination skills, mental acuity and resistance to mental fatigue. The operators are physically screened and genome sequenced, and a number of tissue, blood and cell samples are taken. Overall, 99% of the trainee intake fail the initial testing. The successful creation of an avatar/operator pair is an extremely expensive process - costing upwards of five billion dollars for each successful avatar build.

Once a suitable operator is found, avatar creation begins in earnest. RDA genetics labs create a hybrid embryo, which is a fused genetic product of the Na'vi and human operator DNA donors. Creating a viable embryo is the most complex part of the process and is prone to failure since the alien Na'vi genome is significantly different to human DNA. The composite eliminates defects, reduces the influence of individual Na'vi appearance traits, and boosts compatibility with the human donor DNA sample.

From the hundreds of embryos grown specifically for each operator, many die before reaching the fifty-cell stage. However, some high-quality embryos survive into early organogenesis.

Avatar Control Link[]

Jake human comic

Jake Sully inside a link unit

An avatar driver uses a whole-body remote neural interface to control and animate the avatar body. These link units are located in a dedicated facility, such as that installed at the Hell's Gate base on Pandora. The link beds outwardly resemble MRI scanners, with the operator reclining inside an enclosed capsule. The capsule incorporates neural collection and feedback loops for control transmission and reception of sensory information from the avatar body. The link capsule also continuously monitors operator vital signs and avatar operational parameters. In the event of an abnormality, the link is discontinued immediately or referred to a BioLab technician for further analysis.

To initiate the link, the operator clears his or her mind and enters a transit state of consciousness while the link is established. Once operator-avatar connection quality stabilizes above 99%, the link is set to active; the operator then immediately 'wakes up' inside the avatar body. The operator's own neurotransmitters then cause atonia, disconnecting the operator's natural body from the movements played out by the avatar. Continuous link times vary by individual operator; a new operator may tire and prematurely disconnect from the avatar after only a few minutes, while an experienced driver is capable of several hours or even days link time. Upon disconnection, either by emergency fail-safe or the operator's conscious command, the avatar reverts to a static sleep state, while the operator's consciousness is awakened safely in his or her own body. Disorientation is common upon return, although experience reduces downtime. Emergency disconnections are dangerous, potentially resulting in shock to the human operator and damage to the avatar itself. Catastrophic damage to the avatar, resulting in its biological death, has the same effect.

Avatar operations are limited by the need for the human operator to sleep, rest, and eat. Similarly, the avatar body must be maintained through periods of activity alternating with sleep/disconnection time as well as by consumption of fluids and foodstuffs.

The link machinery is small enough to allow for field operation where link transmission range may become an issue. Compact field bases feature a bank of three ruggedized link beds. Basic science/accommodation facilities are included with embedded power and air filtration, making them fully self-sufficient for short sorties into the Pandoran jungle. The field base can be air-lifted using a Samson air transport to reach remote locations. Although occasionally prone to 'glitches', transmission strength is strong enough to ensure link integrity even in extreme environments such as the flux vortices found in the Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora.

Avatar Field Operations on Pandora[]

Avatar project heads

The project's three main leaders, Dr. René Harper, Senior Science Officer Victor Monroe and Dr. Grace Augustine

The Avatar Program was originally headed by Victor Monroe, with René Harper as the chief of the program. Dr. Grace Augustine eventually took over. Grace used her avatar form to teach rudimentary English to some of the Na'vi. Colonel Quaritch preferred to use them to gain the Na'vi's trust and to find out means to make them move from Hometree, as seen from his deal with Jake Sully.

Human - Na'vi Relations[]

  • Build trust between the two species.
  • Convince the latter to move from Hometree, as seen from his deal with Jake Sully.


  • Gathering information.


  • Traversing and analyzing environments.


  • Communication, Cultural exchange, and education.
  • Teaching and learning languages, culture, and etiquette.


  • Commissioning and dismantling field bases and structures


After Grace's death in 2154, Dr. Norm Spellman became the new head of the program, although this version of the program was no longer under the authority of the RDA due to their expulsion from Pandora.

In Avatar: Reckoning, an actual RDA approved revival of the Avatar Program began around 2170 after the RDA's return to Pandora. However, as Reckoning is cancelled, this may not be canon any longer.

Jaclyn Ogden is said to have restarted the Avatar Program again in the distant future, and developed a way to link several different people to one avatar.

Non-canonical information[]

The prologue of the iOS/android game, simply calls the program Avatar. It is suggested that no one knows what will happen to the user if an avatar dies.


  • Grace claimed that the RDA never really desired the Avatar Program to succeed.[5] Whether this was actually true is unclear.
  • After the Assault on the Tree of Souls, it appears that many avatar drivers eventually sided with the Na'vi and defected from the RDA. When the Na'vi expelled the humans from Pandora, several armed avatars are seen next to the Na'vi warriors as the other humans are driven out of the base. They were among those allowed to stay for helping the Na'vi defeat the RDA.
    • It is unclear if any drivers remained loyal to the RDA.
    • A deleted scene in the first film featured the drivers turning against the RDA and using their Avatars to attack Hell's Gate.

Notable Members[]








  1. Between the first landings on Pandora and when Grace received her Avatar in 2136
  2. According to the 2009 version of Pandorapedia, which may no longer be canon
  3. 3.0 3.1 Avatar: The Game - Ingame Pandorapedia
  4. James Cameron's Avatar (iOS/Android) prologue
  5. Grace Augustine commented "You know, they never even wanted us to succeed. They bulldozed a sacred site on purpose to trigger a response. They're just fabricating this war to get what they want." Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition