What will the next generation of automotive cockpits look like?
Mercedes-Benz answered that question at CES 2018, in Las Vegas, unveiling a radical new in-car infotainment system that puts AI to work to revolutionize how drivers and passengers interact with their vehicles.
“We intend to revolutionize the way you interact with cars,” Ola Källenius, member of the board of management of Daimler AG Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development told a crowd of press, analysts, and auto industry executives gathered at the silvery-gray Mercedes booth on the CES show floor.
By using AI and deep learning Källenius promised a “revolution” in the way we interact with our cars. “This has nothing to do with the incremental improvements we have gotten used to in interacting with our cars,” he said.
Following Through on 2017 Announcement
The announcement comes a year after NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang joined Mercedes-Benz execs at CES 2017 and said that their companies were collaborating on an AI-infused car that would be ready in 2018.
“The beauty of the system is something everyone agrees on, but intelligence makes it individualized,” Mercedes-Benz Vice President of Digital Vehicle and Mobility Sajjad Khan said. “It’s an intelligent learning system that adapts to the requirements of customers,” remembering such details as the seat and steering wheel settings, lights and other comfort features.
Powered by NVIDIA AI technologies, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, will deliver beautiful new 3D touch-screen displays. It can be controlled with a new voice activated assistant that can be summoned with the phrase “Hey Mercedes.”
The announcement highlights the importance of AI to next generation infotainment systems inside the car, even as automakers are racing put AI to work to help vehicles navigate the world around them autonomously.
Using AI to Personalize Driving Experience
The new infotainment system aims to use AI to adapt itself to drivers and passengers — automatically suggesting your favorite music for your drive home, or offering directions to a favorite restaurant at dinner time. It’s also one that will benefit from “over the air” updates delivering new features and capabilities.
Debuting next month in the new A-Class, MBUX will power dramatic wide-screen displays that provide navigation, infotainment, and other capabilities, touch-control buttons on the car’s steering wheel, as well as an intelligent assistant that can be summoned with a voice command.
It’s an interface that can change its look to reflect the driver’s mood — whether they’re seeking serenity or excitement — and understand the way a user talks.
“We have created a user experience like you have never seen in a car before, it is intuitive, simple and unexpected, and at the same time it’s very beautiful and sensual,” Mercedes Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener told the crowd. “In other words it’s the hottest and coolest operating system ever.”
But MBUX goes beyond just beautiful displays, explained Khan.
When speaking to a voice recognition system, no longer will we have to issue robotic commands, such a “check weather Las Vegas,” Khan said.
“No one speaks like that anymore,” Khan said.
“Instead you can simply ask “Hey Mercedes, can I wear my flip-flops tomorrow,” he said. “You can just go ahead and have a chat with your car almost like you do with the people riding along with you.”
The system is available in 23 different languages, and will be constantly updated to make sure it’s up to date with the latest slang, Khan said.
Making Cars Feel More Human
Summing up, Källenius explained that Mercedes is aiming to use technology to make its cars feel more human. “We want a symbiosis of amazing technology and great design that makes people feel at ease,” Källenius said.
MBUX will debut this spring in the automaker’s sleek new A-class compact, eventually rolling out across Mercedes-Benz’s entire next-generation of compact cars.
It’s the latest in what is expected to be a long line of great collaborations between the companies.
And judging by the reaction from the crowd, it’s an infotainment system that’s made a statement — even before it’s answered its first question after rolling off the dealer’s lot.
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