Mercedes jumps on AI tech with new MBUX software

Mercedes’s infotainment system to receive an overhaul, bringing new digital and audio technology

  • AI coming to future Mercedes
  • New synthetic driving sounds 
  • Different virtual assistant ‘empathy modes’

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Mercedes unveiled the latest iteration of its MBUX infotainment software, complete with a range of new features that will appear in its future road cars.

The headline feature is a new artificial intelligence (AI) system, designed to improve the in-car virtual assistant. AI systems, such as ChatGPT, have experienced a surge in popularity over the past year and car manufacturers are already looking to capitalise on these recent innovations, with DS and Volkswagen also integrating similar tech. It will be operated through the same “Hey, Mercedes” voice command that current Mercedes drivers are used to, but it will use generative AI to provide information. 

The virtual assistant will be able to detect the driver’s mood and respond accordingly using four different ‘empathy modes’. Mercedes claims that this system will be able to match or, if appropriate, counter the driver’s mood, in order to best suit the driver’s needs. It’s all part of Mercedes’s latest ‘MB.OS’ operating system being developed in-house, and first appearing in the new Mercedes E-Class

New audio soundtrack tuned by will.i.am

Along with the AI tech, Mercedes debuted its new synthetic driving soundtrack system, called MBUX Sound Drive. Similar tech is appearing more frequently in EVs, as the lack of engine noise provides an opportunity for manufacturers to develop a bespoke, artificial soundtrack. Jointly developed by Mercedes-AMG and singer/producer will.i.am, the system plays a dynamic soundtrack whilst driving that’s matched to the driver’s accelerator, braking and steering inputs. Mercedes claims it will allow the driver to “experience music in a different way when driving the car” and provide something “very emotional”.

Other enhancements to the MBUX software include refined audio quality for audiobooks, an updated ‘Surround Navigation’ system with improved 3D graphics, and the inclusion of video game streaming service Antstream Arcade, allowing passengers to play retro gaming titles on the infotainment screen.

Chief Technology Officer, Marcus Schäfer, claims Mercedes is “Using the digital world to personalise the car, writing our own software and using AI to enhance things for the customer experience. We’re looking at a holistic experience - it’s the audio, the video, touch, even the smelling, using all of your senses.”

Want to know more about in-car infotainment systems? Read our guides to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto…

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