As with some of its recent models, Mercedes-Benz is previewing the next generation of the S-Class (W223) in stages which highlight new features and innovations. First on the list is the new MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User EXperience – which goes into the second generation just two years after first being offered.
The new infotainment system has hardware and software progression with 50% more processing power, a 320GB SSD and 16GB of RAM. Over-the-air (OTA) updates will be available though this is fast becoming a common feature for cars with systems that can connect to internet services.
The ‘learn-capable’ system’s strong point is its networking with a wide range of vehicle systems and sensor data. For example, the exit warning function in the new S-Class will use 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.
Advanced screen technologies with OLED
The latest screen technologies are used for MBUX, which is available for front as well as rear occupants (with up to 3 screens). The 12.8-inch media display has a spacious portrait format which, on request, can be offered with OLED technology and haptic feedback.
OLED panels emit light when subjected to an electric current and, unlike an LCD, they do not require external background lighting. Power is only consumed where pixels light up. Among other benefits, this ensures a better black level and even stronger contrasts. When showing typical video sequences, OLED technology has an up to 30% lower energy consumption than LCD technology.
More extensive personalization
The human factor is always the central consideration. The possibilities for personalization and intuitive operation have become far more extensive even for rear occupants. For the driver, the new 3D driver display allows a spatial view at the touch of a button for the first time. A real 3-dimensional effect is achieved without having to wear 3D glasses.
By scanning a QR code with the Mercedes App, the vehicle is automatically connected to the Mercedes me account. As the profiles (up to seven) can be stored in the Cloud as part of Mercedes me, they can also be used in other Mercedes-Benz vehicles with the new MBUX generation
MBUX Interior Assist checks whether the childseat is correctly attached to the front passenger seat. The driver’s attention level is also monitored and ATTENTION ASSIST warns if there are signs of microsleep. Depending on the equipment level, MBUX Interior Assist recognizes up to 20 control wishes.
New convenience functions include prepositioning of the driver’s seat and outside mirrors according to body size, and operation of the rear roller blind by glancing over the shoulder. The sliding sunroof can also be operated by hand gestures. In fact, hand gestures and voice commands will likely become the dominant form of activation and management of many systems.
‘Hey Mercedes‘ becomes more intelligent
The voice assistant ‘Hey Mercedes’ listens even more carefully, and understands the occupants even better. It has the capability to understand up to 27 languages and can also be controlled from the rear. Several microphones help to tell the system which seat the voice is coming from. Flashing ambient lighting identifies the current speaker.
Domestic systems and home appliances can also be linked to the vehicle and voice-controlled, thanks to the Smart Home function although this probably means having dedicated compatible items at home.
HUD with augmented reality
Two different head-up displays (HUDs) are available, with the larger type having augmented reality (AR) content for more comprehensive route guidance. When navigating, for example, animated turn-off arrows (‘fishbones’) are projected onto the road lane at a virtual distance of about 10 metres. As this is superimposed directly onto reality, the result is directly perceptible information that is important for the current driving situation.
The driver display and media display offer a comprehensive aesthetic experience. The appearance of the screens can be individualized with a choice of up to four display styles. The number of ‘classic controls’ has been greatly reduced with 27 fewer hardkeys (mechanical switches) than in the current model.
“Our overarching goal is to offer the utmost in comfort, personalization and convenience for our customers. A system that is more detailed, thoughtful and individual than ever before. So I would even call it ‘My MBUX’,” said Sajjad Khan, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG. “Through even more ease-of-use, our customers gain extra time and added value. This goes beyond just displays and voice control. My MBUX now becomes the spinal cord, or even the central brain of the vehicle.”
More information will be presented in the next few months and the new S-Class will have its global debut sometime in September.