- Mercedes has unveiled features of the next-generation MBUX infotainment system coming to the new S-class, including a 3D instrument cluster, “Hey Mercedes” access for all four passengers, and augmented reality in the head-up display.
- The 2021 S-class is expected to be unveiled later this year.
Mercedes went all in when it introduced voice recognition to its MBUX infotainment system. It took what has worked in the home and in our pockets from systems by Amazon, Apple, and Google and transferred it to the road. Now it’s pushing its first big update via the upcoming S-class. In addition to the expected increase in voice controls, it’s also taking over more of the features that were formally controlledl by hardware buttons. The new S-class is slated to make its debut later this year.
The 3D instrument cluster, Mercedes says, uses stereo cameras to track the driver’s eyes and will be able to create a 3D-looking interface. The system uses the traditional LCD display combined with an LCD aperture grille that sits a few millimeters ahead of the display. As the driver’s head moves, the aperture grille adjusts itself so that the right and left eye each see something slightly different, creating a 3D stereoscopic effect. For drivers not keen on a three-dimensional dash cluster, Mercedes says the feature can be shut off.
For the new vehicle, the automaker has moved the infotainment screen down from the dash and into the center stack. Mercedes says that 12.8-inch OLED display, along with new swiping and other gesture controls, has replaced an additional 27 hard keys in the vehicle. So if you’re a fan of physical knobs and buttons, we have bad news for you. The automaker has made sure, at least, that the climate controls are always available on the massive screen.
The screen’s layout does seem like an improvement over the current version of MBUX with more of a tablet grid layout instead of having to swipe left and right to access major features. Mercedes also stated that the new system will have 50 percent more processing power than its predecessor, which might reduce some of the latency issues we’ve experienced while using the current system.
The voice assistant has more information for drivers, including pointing users to the location of the first aid kit and walking passengers through Bluetooth pairing. Mercedes also added more natural conversational ability to the system so it can answer “general knowledge” questions or understand commands and requests in 27 languages.
S-class passengers will also get to interact with the “Hey Mercedes” activated voice assistant from the back of the luxury sedan. In addition to the mics found in the front seats, two additional microphones are in the back seat so that those in the rear can control aspects of the vehicle. The back seat will have three optional screens, two of which are positioned on the backs of the front headrests. All passengers will have the ability to share their media with others in the vehicle quickly by dragging and dropping it on the display.
The rear passengers also have the ability to augment and set navigation destinations—helpful for sharing a destination with the driver without having to interrupt front-seat conversations.
For the driver, the head-up display (HUD) is getting the navigation augmented-reality treatment we’ve seen in the infotainment display of MBUX-enabled Mercedes. Those arrows that pop up to tell you where to turn are now in the driver’s eye line, making them more useful.
Finally, the S-Class’s infotainment display also uses biometric security features for logging into the Mercedes Me app for purchases and to set a driver’s profile. In addition to a PIN, the display has a fingerprint sensor, and it can use its two cameras for facial recognition or use the driver’s voice to log them in. It’s an extra bit of security for those who share a car and don’t want to their teenagers to go on a digital-payment purchasing spree while using the S-class.
As for the owners of Mercedes-Benz vehicles with the current version of MBUX who wouldn’t mind getting some of these new capabilities, a Mercedes spokesperson told Car and Driver, “Certain features will be available for purchase in the Mercedes Me store.”
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