Mercedes-Benz User Experience in Depth

Mercedes-Benz User Experience cockpit 10 photos
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User ExperienceMercedes-Benz User Experience
After previewing the technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX as the Germans call it, gets its first real-life application on the new A-Class, presented in the first days on February.
To be used on the entire new compact car generation, as well as the new Sprinter line of vans, MBUX presents itself as a combination between a touchscreen, a touchpad and the Touch-Control Buttons in the steering wheel, all coordinated by artificial intelligence. MBUX marks the carmaker's departure from the aging COMAND system still in use on most of its models, and the first-ever adaptation of a touchscreen to a Mercedes model.

The most distinctive feature of the MBUX are the two large displays, one showing the instrument cluster and the other working as infotainment features interface. The entire MBUX suite is powered by a 6 Core CPU with 8GB DDR4 RAM and uses a Linux operating system.

Mercedes-Benz says it has designed MBUX to adapt to the driver's needs. That essentially means that any customization made, from display information to seat or lighting settings can be saved not for one, but for several different possible drivers and accessed at the touch of a button.

Instrument cluster

As far as the digital instrument cluster goes, the German approach marks the first time fully customizable options are being offered on a production car. Depending on what the driver wants to see, it will show not only acceleration or rpm, but also an analog clock, range or Information on the current radio station/media title, an assistance graphic, current consumption, the ECO display or a navigation map, including in fullscreen mode.

Changing what the display shows is done via steering-wheel-mounted buttons. Mind you, this is the screen that sits right in front of the driver, behind the steering wheel. All possible combinations of what the display shows can be preset by the driver.

Central display

The other screen, or the central display, is the one used for infotainment features and is controlled via direct input or by use of the touch dial on the steering wheel.

It can double the information shown on the center display, but it also has some unique features, like 3D mapping and full apps for controlling music, navigation and so on. On the central display, a 3D rendering of the car allows the driver to change settings or troubleshoot possible issues.

The central display is comprised of three levels, starting with the Homescreen. Here the drivers can select the main applications they want to use (telephone, navigation, and radio) or read important information, like arrival time, the song currently being played, time and so on.

The second level, the Basescreen, is used to control Media and Navigation. For other, less used options, MBUX features a so-called Submenu.

Hey Mercedes!

Aside from controlling the MBUX with their fingers or steering wheel buttons, drivers can also use their voice. The activation code for the MBUX system is HEY MERCEDES. When those words are spoken, the LINGUATRONIC system kicks in.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the system “obeys virtually every command, recognizes and understands nearly all sentences from the fields of infotainment and vehicle operation.” The voice-controlled system is AI-powered, which means it learns both new buzzwords and it can identify the user speaking.

Connect services are included by Mercedes in the MBUX through the me concept. That includes Car-to-X communication, a feature used for information on road conditions or approaching emergency vehicles, as well as vehicle locating.

As far as connectivity goes, the system allows for USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 connectivity, Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC). It works with watchOS and Android Wear 2.0 for smartwatches and Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto, Baidu CarLife for smartphones.

The new MBUX will be offered by Mercedes-Benz in three different version: two 7-inch (17.78 cm) displays, one 7 and one 10.25-inch display or two 10.25-inch displays (26 cm). All version will be doubled by a heads-up display.

Overall, MBUX seems like an elegant toy. Some might complain however that there are too many redundancies: both screens can show the same thing, and both can be controlled the same way. There are also loads of settings and displays types to play with, probably too many for some.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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