Mobile Geeks

Mercedes Benz MBUX 2018 Hands On

MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), will feature three-dimensional digital displays, a touchscreen, voice control, and over-the-air updates.

A big change from Mercedes’ older infotainment system is the ability to touch, swipe and pinch-to-zoom on the screen itself. Previous iterations relied either on the voice commands, touch controls on the steering wheel, or a touchpad between the seats. Mercedes deleted the wheel, but kept all of the other ways to control inputs.

MBUX will arrive first on the all-new A-Class when it arrives later this year, but it will also roll out to other new Mercedes vehicles after that. They are starting with the A-Class since it’s the aimed at a younger more connectivity focused demographic, a generation that expects their in-car experience to match what they have on their other mobile device, the smartphone.

MBUX

MBUX comprises two widescreen displays, one to replace the traditional gauge cluster and one for the infotainment. The gauge cluster screen has a traditional two-gauge layout, but like any display the gauges can appear in a number of configurations. You can show current media, an analog clock, a navigation map or fuel consumption figures instead of speed or revs.

Scrolling and animations on the MBUX system’s is silky smooth, and feel as responsive as Smartphone touch input, which is a major achievement relative to typical first-party car touchscreen performance.

Over on the right, a home screen displays large images for quick-tap access to media, navigation and phone menus. Each of those images can display pertinent information just below, including ETAs and whatever media is playing.

The interface seems to now rely heavily on skeuomorphic details, a design concept where items resemble their real world counterparts. Which seems to have removed the need to scroll through long menus in order to reach things you need. If you want to change vehicle settings, the settings menu features fancy animations of the vehicle, and all you need to do is tap various parts of the car to access relevant settings.The file structure like interface was one of the more frustrating complaints about Command, the previous UX structure.
MBUX focuses on simplicity when it comes to interaction. Even though it offers a lot of options and features, many of the things you want to do can be accessed directly from the top level main screen, including navigating to your home, playing a favorite music station. There’s also a fullscreen mode that can display navigation information across the entire area of the gauge cluster.

MBUX will eventually expand further into the same kind of app store system we’re all used to now, where some apps will be free, while owners can opt to buy other apps as well.

MBUX also brings new connected features. Vehicle-to-X communication capabilities allow the system to receive messages about bad roads or emergency vehicles driving past. More traditional services are included, too, like vehicle location, local gas prices and over-the-air updates.

Will all the talk of AI of course MBUX comes with the ability to learn about it’s drivers. On the homescreen there are shortcuts built in, and since MBUX is learning, it will offer to customize your experience by presenting you with “Suggested” shortcuts. These will include destinations, music, cabin comfort settings and more. It will all based on what it learns about your habits, schedule, and preferences. Where it gets even more interesting is that your preferences can follow the driver around, and will be attached to their profile – which can even follow you from vehicle to vehicle if you’re switching between Mercedes cars equipped with MBUX.

Hardware

Regardless if it’s the base or the upgraded infotainment system, it will come with two graphics chips, both provided by NVIDIA 6-core CPU, 8 GB DDR4 ram, with a Linux operating system. There is the options for a headsup display, which is one of my favorite navigation add ons, theHUDs will have a brightness of up to 12,000 cd/m².

Mercedes has created their own virtual assistant, Hey Mercedes

LINGUATRONIC by Mercedes is name of the system behind their new voice assistant, it’s got a foundation in a system automakers have been using for nearly two decades. But that’s where things end, it’s been completely reinvented. MBUX relies on a combination of on-board and off-board setups which have significant improved the latency of the Mercedes assistant.

The MBUX system uses a home grown language database which has enabled it to understand indirect speech in the same way that Alexa or Google Assistant would. This means that you don’t need to be so specific when giving instructions, rather than saying “Set driver temperature to 70 degrees,” you can just say “Hey Mercedes, I’m too cold,”. The car will decide how much to increase the temperature and raise it by a few degrees.

If you tell MBUX you’re hungry and it won’t just show the nearest restaurants and their distance, you also the Yelp rating. However, since Google Maps isn’t integrated into the system and the telematics is based on HERE’s solution you don’t have the option to find out the Google Maps rating as well. When the system launches, we can also expect a partnership with Trip Advisor, which will increase the available information on restaurants and points of interest.

What3Words – A New Style of Navigation

what3words navigation is a navigation system that has divided the planet into 57 trillion squares and each one has been given its own three-word address, such as remark.healers.heat.

What3words technology is meant to simplify and refine navigational inputs. The idea is that a driver would find their destination by its unique combination of three words and by saying them you’ll navigate to on of the 57 trillion three meters by three meters squares. The three word combination will corresponds to your destination and you’ll end up within nine square meters of where you intend to be.

Mercedes has put thier money where their mouth is and aquired 10% of what3words and will be rolling out this technology with the A-Class using the all new MBUX infotainment system. Which geographics this will be availabel in remains a mystery as does how the driver will look up the three words for their intended destinations. The system will be offered in 14 langages and each language has a vocabulary list of approximately 25,000 words. We wonder how the system will deal with words like their, they’re and there that sound the same but are clearly different.

 

As the hastag on the side of the camouflaged A-Class suggest, they’re looking to make the car the #UltimateMobileDevice

While we initially thought MBUX might cut down on the different ways you could interact with the system, that hasn’t happened, with Mercedes-Benz still offering control via voice, the steering wheel, the touchscreen or the rotary dial. However, with voice commands working as sharply as they do, there’s no real need to access any of the other options in the real world.

We’ll be taking a test drive in the A-Class at the start of February, so be sure to check back to see a hands on Review of the new system in action.