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Mercedes-Benz introduces MBUX, bringing ChatGPT to the in-car experience

Mercedes Benz MBUX brings ChatGPT to your car

Mercedes-Benz MBUX steering wheel with multiple control button layers.
Mercedes-Benz / Mercedes-Benz

At CES 2024, Mercedes-Benz gave attendees a preview of the automaker’s enriched machine-and-person experiences. Running on the in-house developed MB.OS, the primary elements of the Mercedes-Benz vehicle experience are the enhanced ChatGPT voice control generative AI MBUX Virtual Assistant and MBUX Surround Navigation. Mercedes-Benz is also expanding content, entertainment, and productivity apps based on customer needs and preferences.

Mercedes-Benz MBUX photo from passenger seat showing steering wheel with driver information screens, large center infotainment display, and streaming selections on passenger display.
mercedes-Benz / Mercedes-Benz

Why Mercedes-Benz MBUX matters

When OpenAI released ChatGPT 4.0 in November 2022, the useful but often perplexing application was a wake-up call of the potential functions of generative AI, particularly Large Language Models (LLMs) that generate responsive text. MBUX virtual assistant combines ChatGPT-based generative AI with additional software that learns from customer actions and preferences to create highly personalized personal assistants.

Other automakers like Volkswagen have also announced development efforts to integrate generative AI in their upcoming vehicles. Mercedes-Benz is focused on differentiating the brand with what the brand calls “a hyper-personalized user experience.”

Mercedes-Benz MBUX photo from passenger seat showing steering wheel with driver information screens, large center infotainment display, and 3D graphics on passenger screen.
Mercedes-Benz / Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz MBUX Virtual Assistant

Customers can tailor the MBUX Virtual Assistant with four personality traits: Natural, Predictive, Personal, and Empathetic. The assistant uses situational context, learned behavior, and generative AI to offer suggestions proactively based on the driver’s actions, statements, and moods.

In addition to voice interactions, MBUX augments conversations with 3D animations created by Unity’s game engine that vary movement, brightness, intensity, and color.

Mercedes-Benz MBUX center display expanded with multiple meal and menu options in restaurant search.
Mercedes-Benz / Mercedez-Benz

MBUX Surround Navigation

To enhance the driver experience, MBUX adds a new dimension to conventional navigation apps by adding relevant situational content surrounding the vehicle. For example, the display might use 3D graphics to indicate hazards ahead, pedestrians walking alongside the car, or the traffic ahead. Combining route guidance and other content detected by vehicle sensors, the driver will ‘see what the car sees,’ according to Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedez-Benz MBUX and expanded in-car connectivity, productivity, and entertainment content.
Mercedes-Benz / Mercedes-Benz

MBUX Content and Collectibles

Mercedes-Benz uses over-the-air (OTA) updates to add features, apps, and content based on driver actions, past selections, and regional preferences. Mercedes-Benz currently supports Zoom and WebEx video conferencing in new E-Class vehicles and will add support for Microsoft Teams meetings during Q1 2024. Another upcoming addition this year will be Sony Picture Entertainment’s (SPE) RIDEVU service, which provides access to a curated library of films for streaming, including controls specific to the vehicle.

Mercedes also introduced MBUX Collectibles, an in-car app that creates a private art gallery of digital art and NFT collectibles. The app can connect to the customer’s digital wallet and can also display other collections.

CES attendees were able to preview Mercedes-Benz MB.OS in four Concept CLA Class vehicles. The MB.OS demonstrations on a three-display MBUX Superscreen depicted apps in four domains: Infotainment, Automated Driving, Body & Comfort, and Driving & Charging, all with chip-to-cloud connectivity, which facilitates keeping the apps and content updated.

Mercedes-Benz showcased MB.OS, the MBUX Virtual Assistant, MBUX Surround Navigation, and MBUX Collectibles, which indicate its intentions for user hyper-personalization in the future. Mercedes-Benz did not provide a time frame for the release other than stating that it will begin with vehicles built with the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) platform.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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