Announces partnership with Black Eyed Peas Will.I. Am, allowing vehicles to musically react, via advanced software, to how they’re being driven

Graham Hope

January 10, 2024

3 Min Read
Mercedes

A debut for its new MBUX Virtual Assistant was the highlight of a busy CES for German automaker Mercedes.

Its introduction showcased a wide package of upgrades to the company’s in-car tech aimed at delivering a “hyper-personalized” user experience for customers.

The MBUX Virtual Assistant uses advanced software and generative AI to create more of a “natural relationship” between the driver and the car – a recurring theme among automakers at CES, with Volkswagen and Honda making similar claims.

But Mercedes wasn’t holding back on trumpeting its own tech, describing the new functionality, which is combined on-screen with high-resolution 3D graphics from the Unity game engine, as “game changing.”

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“Tomorrow’s Mercedes-Benz will know its driver like never before,” added board member Markus Schäfer.

Running on Mercedes’ own operating system, MB.OS, the Virtual Assistant has been endowed with four different characteristics – natural, predictive, personal and empathetic – to encourage intuitive interaction, although drivers can tailor the system to their own preferences.

Its ability to learn drivers’ traits also means it can put forward suggestions, encouraging more natural dialog. For example, the Virtual Assistant can predict when they are running late for meetings, and suggest dialing in remotely.

Related:Volkswagen Integrating ChatGPT Into Vehicles, CES 2024

The 3D graphics are also aimed at providing a more personal touch, with a “living” avatar of Mercedes’ star changing color, brightness and intensity to express different moods.

Arguably of more use is the upgraded MBUX Surround Navigation system, which incorporates the same 3D graphics from Unity to deliver an overlay of what the car sees in its immediate surroundings in the digital instrument cluster. Digital representations of other road users are combined with route guidance for even more immersive navigation than at present.

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New third-party apps will be available, too, with video conferences via Teams, Zoom and WebEx all possible, plus drivers stuck in traffic jams will be able to order a pizza, via Just Eat or even organize a holiday, through Booking. 

And with Mercedes moving ever further down the path of automated driving – its Level 3 hands-off, eyes off Drive Pilot tech is now available in Nevada and California – it’s no surprise to learn that more entertainment options will be introduced into its vehicles.

Sony has been hooked up to provide film and TV content, while there are plans for Anstream Arcade to offer retro gaming. And if watching vintage movies or playing Pac-Man is not your thing, there’s even an app that will allow you to display your NFTs.

Related:Sony Honda Automotive Brand to Use Microsoft AI, CES 2024

The new MBUX Virtual Assistant will initially be fitted in cars based on Mercedes’ MMA platform, the first of which will be the production version of the CLA, which made its North American debut in concept guise in Las Vegas.

Will.I.Am Partnership

Away from the new MBUX, Mercedes also announced its SOUND DRIVE tie-up with the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I. Am, which sees cars with second-generation MBUX systems able to musically react, via advanced software, to the way they are being driven.

A deal was also confirmed with Audible and Amazon Music that will see their apps made available in cars fitted with third-generation MBUX.

Read more about:

CES 2024

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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