The automotive market is undergoing a phase of transition, with companies opting to go electric and introducing a lot of smart features to their portfolio. Mercedes Benz has been at the forefront of this effort and the first piece in this rather long endeavor has finally come to fruition in the form of the MBUX.
No other innovation in recent years has so radically changed the operation of a Mercedes-Benz as MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). The second generation of this learn-capable system debuts in the new S-Class. The vehicle interior is even more digital and intelligent, as both the hardware and software have made great strides: brilliant displays on up to five large screens, in part with OLED technology, make control of vehicle and comfort functions even easier. The human factor is always the central consideration. The possibilities for personalization and intuitive operation have become far more extensive. This certainly applies in the rear, but also for the driver: for example, the new 3D driver display allows a spatial view at the touch of a button for the first time. A real three-dimensional effect is achieved without having to wear 3D glasses.
Mercedes has introduced its own voice assistant called ‘Hey Mercedes’, and now, in the updated version of the MBUX, the voice assistant is capable of doing a lot more. This includes accepting a telephone call or displaying the navigation map. “Hey Mercedes” can now also explain where the first-aid kit is located, or how to connect a smartphone via Bluetooth.
However, the unique feature of MBUX is its networking with a wide range of vehicle systems and sensor data. For example, the exit warning function in the S-Class now uses cameras to recognize that an occupant wants to leave the vehicle. If another road user is approaching in the blind spot, the active ambient lighting becomes part of the exit warning system and flashes red. MBUX Interior Assist checks whether the child seat is correctly attached to the front passenger seat. The driver’s attention level is also monitored. The driver is warned by ‘Attention Assist’ if there are signs of microsleep.
Let’s take a look at some of the major innovations in the MBUX.
Augmented reality head-up display (AR-HUD):
Two different head-up displays (HUDs) are available on request, one of them an innovative variant with a, particularly large image. The aperture angle of the display is 10° horizontal and 5° vertical, and the image appears virtually at a distance of 10 meters. This display area corresponds to a monitor with a 77-inch diagonal. The AR-HUD provides a great deal of augmented reality content for driving assistance systems and navigation information.
Individual mirrors and a highly efficient light source. The technology is also used by beamers in cinemas. In the S-Class, it is used by Mercedes-Benz for the first time to generate images in the head-up display.
When it comes to the driver side, the HUD blends into the surroundings ahead of the vehicle and can, therefore, contribute to further reduced distraction.
3D driver display:
An impression of spatial depth is created when the eyes of a viewer perceive different perspective views of an object in the display. In this innovative auto-stereoscopic display, this is achieved by the sophisticated combination of a conventional LCD display with a special pixel structure and a controllable LCD aperture grille. What is known as a barrier mask is positioned a few millimeters in front of the LCD? It is so precisely adjusted to the head position of the viewer that the left and right eye see different pixels of the LCD. This creates the desired impression of depth.
Thanks to methods developed by Mercedes-Benz to adapt distances and a very low-latency system configuration, the driver enjoys a wide range of free movement. The image in the driver display is continuously adjusted
MBUX Interior Assist:
Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, MBUX Interior Assist recognizes and anticipates the wishes and intentions of the occupants. It does this by interpreting head direction, hand movements, and body language, and responds with corresponding vehicle functions. For example, if the driver looks over his/her shoulder towards the rear window, Interior Assist automatically opens the sunblind. If the driver is looking for something on the front passenger seat in the dark, it automatically switches the light on. Merely looking at one of the outside mirrors is enough to allow adjustment, without having to select it first.
The driver and passengers can link personal favorites with the system. As well as enhancing operating convenience, MBUX Interior Assist improves safety.
The abbreviation stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. In contrast to LCD technology, an OLED display consists of several organic layers applied to a plastic substrate. In the S-Class, the OLED display is located behind a glass facing, and in combination with the actuators and pressure sensors behind it, it provides comprehensive control and display experience. Evaluation of the pressure exerted and haptic confirmation of touch commands makes extended functionalities possible. OLED panels emit light when subjected to an electric current, and unlike an LCD they do not require external background lighting.
Voice assistant “Hey Mercedes”:
Conventional voice control systems in cars call for certain fixed commands from their users. Because it understands natural language, “Hey Mercedes” listens to almost every word and understands practically any sentence relating to the infotainment sector and vehicle operation in 27 languages. Indirect speech is also recognized, for instance, if the user says “I am cold” instead of the clear command “Temperature in footwell 24 degrees” in order to operate the climate control for the footwell. The voice control is also capable of learning. On the one hand, it tunes into the user and their voice and also understands non-native speakers better; on the other hand, the software models on the server learn new buzzwords or changing the use of language with time.
The system decides which reply is the most likely, then within a few seconds, the reply/reaction follows. This means that the voice assistant also answers if there is no connectivity.