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CES 2024: Merc brings AI to MBUX

An AI-powered virtual assistant makes human-like interaction possible, among numerous innovations unveiled at CES, writes SHERYL GOLDSTUCK.

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a new MBUX virtual assistant that uses generative AI and 3D graphics to make interactions between the customer and vehicle more natural.

Revealed at the CES tech expo in Las Vegas this week, the AI runs on a new Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS) developed in-house.  Described as “the most human-like interface with a Mercedes-Benz yet”, it interacts with the driver using four different emotions, so that it is potentially in tune with mood and needs.  Its 3D game-engine graphics are fully integrated with MBUX Surround Navigation, to combine route guidance and assistance. 

The on-board app portfolio has also been expanded, while collaboration with Audible and Amazon Music is bringing podcasts and audio books into the car. This will run alongside a new in-car music experience called Sound Drive, developed by Mercedes-AMG in collaboration with American artist and entrepreneur, of the Black Eyed Peas.

As much as I love tech in cars, that would be enough for me, but Merc didn’t stop there.

At CES it announced new platforms and partnerships to enhance in-car gaming. It is collaborating with the world’s first retro games streaming service, Ant stream Arcade, to integrate cloud gaming into the car.

It also launched Drive Pilot, the first system certified in the United States for SAE Level 3 – defined as “conditionally automated driving”. That allows self-driving vehicles to handle some tasks and scenarios without human intervention, but the driver must take over when prompted. The car can take over in conditions like traffic jams or stop-start traffic, and use “environmental detection” to make informed decisions, like accelerating past a slow-moving vehicle. So far, it is approved for such use in the states of California and Nevada.

Mercedes-Benz says customer deliveries of 2024 EQS sedan and S-Class models equipped with Drive Pilot will start in early 2024 through dealers in these states. For now, I’ll have to keep my hands on the wheel and my feet on the pedals.

* CES, formerly the Consumer Electronics Show, is one of the most influential tech events in the world, serving as the launchpad for several thousand new products every January in Las Vegas. It is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and features every aspect of the tech sector.

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