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CES 2024: Mercedes AI Assistant Has 4 Emotions, Access to ChatGPT (Maybe)

LAS VEGAS—Mercedes today previewed an AI-powered update to its in-car voice technology, the MBUX Voice Assistant, plus a slew of creative dash screen features.

The in-car AI runs on the proprietary Mercedes-Benz operating system (MB.OS), and “uses generative AI and proactive intelligence.”

The company is currently piloting a ChatGPT-based voice assistant and is seeing “interaction rates going up dramatically,” Markus Schäfer, chief technology officer at Mercedes-Benz, tells PCMag. But the final product won’t “necessarily” only use ChatGPT. “We can exchange [ChatGPT] for a new model if we see options that are better for the customer,” Schäfer says.

Mercedes, for example, uses different navigation apps around the world, as not all countries have or prefer Google Maps. When it comes to large language models (LLMs), one may be more proficient in the local dialect than another.

Schäfer also says the company piloted multiple faces to represent the assistant, but could not find one that was universally liked, especially globally, so anthropomorphizing was “not worth it.”

The new assistant will launch in Mercedes vehicles in early 2025. Volkswagen also announced a ChatGPT integration at CES this week, which will be first to market in Q2 2024.

Once the driver says, “Hey, Mercedes,” they can expect more natural, empathetic responses, thanks to four emotional profiles—natural, predictive, personal, and empathetic—that the German automaker has “blended to create a fully rounded whole.”

“Through advances in artificial intelligence, tomorrow’s Mercedes-Benz will know its driver like never before,” says Schäfer. “It will enhance and complement our customers’ lives—in their cars and in other areas too. The latest proof points on show at CES provide an exciting glimpse of what lies ahead.”

The MBUX Assistant also goes beyond conversations; it “learns” the driver’s vehicle preferences. For example, if the driver frequently turns on a news station during their morning commute, MBUX will turn to that station when they start the car. If the driver turns on the seat massagers and dims the lights at night, the tech can do that for them, too.

The AI model will only “learn” from the individual car, and not share data across drivers. “Trust in the brand is so important,” Schäfer says. Drivers can opt out, though that may limit the breadth of features they can enjoy.

3D Navigation With Video Game-Quality Graphics

A new navigation experience, dubbed MBUX Surround Navigation, will help the driver “see what the car sees.” It uses 3D, video game-quality graphics to create a representation of the surroundings, and displays it across the giant, wall-to-wall screen.

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MBUX nav

MBUX 3D navigation. (Credit: Mercedes)

Also built on MB.OS, MBUX Surround Navigation is intended to go beyond route navigation, and make it easier to weave through “busy urban environments.” It shows traffic (cars, vans, trucks, cyclists), pedestrians, buildings, other potential hazards. It also superimposes route guidance onto the image, so “the customer can clearly see where exactly their next turn will take them.”

MBUX dash

Dash screen on EQE AMG SUV in fall 2023. (Credit: Emily Dreibelbis)

More Entertainment, NFTs, and Will.I.Am

Mercedes added more music, games, and entertainment options to its dash screen as well. Though creative, they are presumably a push for more in-car subscriptions and purchases.

In a collaboration with Amazon, Audible, and the Dolby Atmos sound system, Mercedes says drivers can bring podcasts, books, and music to life with a more immersive experience. Recording artist also created the new MBUX Sound Drive for Mercedes-AMG performance vehicles, which “allows the music to react to the way the car is being driven, creating a harmonious relationship between motion and melody.”

Mercedes-AMG sporty interior.

Mercedes-AMG sporty interior (Credit: Mercedes)

Mercedes already offers in-vehicle gaming, and now a partnership with Antstream Arcade will bring a new suite of retro games to play.

Finally, Mercedes added an NFT display gallery if by any chance you’re still holding onto an impulse purchase from Bored Ape Yacht Club.

NFT Gallery

MBUX Collectibles app NFT gallery (Credit: Mercedes)

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