The next generation E-Class from Mercedes-Benz will arrive later this year, and in keeping with fashion, the newest iteration of the executive sedan will offer a full step forward in technology.
Mercedes is leading with the combination of formerly siloed systems into a single processor that will control all vehicle functions. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re endowing that single processor with Artificial Intelligence.
Officials are quick to note the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (dubbed MBUX) already uses AI in a limited way, but that the next-generation E-Class will bring new functionality from your desktop and personal mobile devices into your car for your daily commute.
“Customers can look forward to an immersive entertainment experience in the new E Class with music, games and streaming content,” the company said in a release. “The electronic architecture is more software-driven and less hardware-driven. This forms the basis for more individual updating of the interior systems in the future.”
The days of taking refuge in your car are over
Like other luxury cars, the data package in the E-Class will support 5G telecommunications for greater throughput than was possible with 4G/LTE. The increased bandwidth is needed because there’s a new compatibility layer in the operating system that allows the installation of third-party apps.
At launch, the E-Class will support TikTok, Angry Birds, Webex, Zoom and the Vivaldi browser. In addition, an optional ZYNC entertainment portal offers video streaming, on-demand content, interactive experiences, sports, news, games and much more on the central display and the optional front passenger display, all with a single user interface.
Another new feature is a selfie and video camera built into the optional MBUX Superscreen on top of the dashboard. When the E-Class is stationary, the driver can participate in online video conferences via Webex or Zoom, and take photos and videos. Soon you’ll be able to post a TikTok from your car without having to use your phone, because who doesn’t want to do that?
The E-Class is always listening
For several years now, you’ve been able to activate the AI in your Benz by saying, “Hey Mercedes,” similar to the way you operate a household Google, Alexa or Siri device. With the new E-Class, there’s a “Just Talk” function that will activate the intelligent voice control without the keyword “Hey Mercedes.”
When the function is activated, a red microphone symbol appears in the display to indicate that the vehicle is ready to receive commands. The old system would occasionally activate if you said something similar like “My Dog Has Rabies,” so it remains to be seen if the Just Talk feature will activate itself too often.
The E-Class will adapt to your habits
Another thing the E-Class AI will do is learn your particular habits. If you turn the temperature down and ask for a massage when you get into the car after your hot yoga class every Wednesday at 6 p.m., the car will start to do that for you automatically.
Similarly, if you switch to the Death Metal radio station after dropping your kids off at Sunday School, that will happen automatically, too. Mercedes-Benz uses the term “routine” for this innovation, and they say it works pretty well.
At launch of the new E-Class, customers will be able to use templates for standard routines. They also have the option of creating routines themselves by linking several functions and conditions. For example, “Switch on the seat heating and set the ambient lighting to warm orange if the interior temperature is below 50 degrees.”
Get ready for “Magic”
Mercedes already uses a limited AI as part of MBUX. The apps for navigation, radio and phone will suggest frequently used actions. These might include the suggestion of a specific frequently used phone number or navigation destination.
Now more than 20 additional functions including everything from birthday reminders to suggestions for a to-do list will be offered automatically with the help of AI, if they are relevant to the customer. Internally, the developers refer to these as “Magic Modules,” which sounds way more adventurous than just reminding you to call your mother.
These are just a few of the many technology features that will be available on the new E-Class when it arrives at U.S. dealerships later this year. We may poke a little fun at it, but it’ll probably be disturbingly good and addictively convenient. Here at TheDetroitBureau.com, we welcome our new AI overlords.