The all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class will make its global debut in September and the company has a few previews in store for us. The first one comes today with the introduction of the second-generation Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, which promises more comfort, functionality and personalization than ever.
Surprisingly (or not), designers have eliminated as many as 27 physical buttons to make even more room for digital interfaces. The climate controls remain permanently displayed at the bottom of the centre screen, however.
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Speaking of screens, they are all over the place. In front of the driver, the 12.3-inch instrument panel 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. Meanwhile, two different head-up displays will be available on request. The larger one provides augmented reality (when navigating, for example, animated arrows are virtually projected onto the road lane). It’s like the image appears on a 77-inch display at a distance of 10 metres.
The centre screen is now in portrait style, detached from the instrument panel and available in a 12.8-inch size with OLED technology. The appearance can be individualized with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service). In the rear, passengers have access to up to three screens and content can be quickly and easily shared with other passengers.
Up to seven different user profiles are possible in the car. Personal preferences such as a favourite radio station and preselected settings can be transferred to any seat via Mercedes me. And thanks to the Cloud, they can also be used in other Mercedes-Benz vehicles with the new MBUX generation.
Alongside the classic entry of a PIN, a new authentication method ensures a high level of security. Fingerprint, face and voice recognition are combined, allowing access to individual settings or verification of digital payment processes from the vehicle.
The automaker’s voice assistant has been improved, as well. It understands natural language and can even perform certain actions without the activation keyword "Hey Mercedes." These include accepting a phone call or displaying the navigation map. It can now also explain where the first-aid kit is located, or how to connect a smartphone via Bluetooth. Several microphones help tell the system which seat the voice is coming from, so if a rear passenger says “I’m tired” or “I’m cold,” a special comfort program starts or cabin temperature automatically adjusts at that very spot.
The new generation of MBUX is further highlighted by Interior Assist. Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, this technology recognizes and anticipates the wishes and intentions of the occupants. For example, it can preposition the driver's seat and outside mirrors according to body size, operate the rear sunshade when you glance over your shoulder or open/close the sliding sunroof with simple hand gestures. If you’re looking for something on the front passenger seat in the dark, it automatically switches the light on.
Blessed with more advanced artificial intelligence, MBUX 2.0 is also able to answer general knowledge questions, start a dialogue with a real person and control various connected devices at home.
This is all supported by 50 percent more processing power than the previous system, 16 Gb RAM and 320 Gb SSD. Over-the-air software updates will be possible, too.
Pretty impressive, eh? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll have more details about the next-gen Mercedes-Benz S-Class to share later this summer.