With the aim of enhancing the overall driving experience, HARMAN and Daimler have collaborated to bring augmented reality into the new A-Class through its Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment unit.

The development of the system comes at a time of growing demand from a demographic that wants the latest infotainment systems and features that complement a connected lifestyle. Cars such as the A-Class are fast becoming the most powerful and up-to-date devices you will own. Now, instead of recounting horsepower and top speed, car users talk about what apps the car is using or what sound system is featured. Connectivity and the services available appeal to consumers in a way that other car features never did. Crucially, consumers want to have these features available not just in larger cars but in the compact ones too.

AI helps build intelligence

MBUX is a highly intelligent solution with an AI system responsible for the development and understanding of the driver’s preferences and behaviors: it constantly seeks to improve and customize features for the driver. Examples include suggesting music based on previous choices, or learning journeys that are taken on a routine basis, such as the morning journey to work. The system will plot directions to these frequently visited destinations at specific times, all whilst considering the latest traffic information to determine the quickest route. Meanwhile, Over the Air (OTA) updates keep the system fresh with new features and options, just like a smartphone.

AR delivers convenience

To enhance the navigation system, HARMAN and Daimler worked closely to incorporate AR capabilities such as overlaying views from external cameras on regular maps to give more information or visibility in certain traffic situations. A good example is when you are first in the line at the traffic lights. Previously, you often needed to lean forward to see the traffic lights that were hidden behind the roofline. Now, by utilizing the camera feed, the lights are displayed on the dashboard, making this situation less hassle for the driver.

The benefit of adopting augmented reality is also demonstrated when navigating to a specific building in a long street. The system will overlay the house numbers on the street view video, guiding you right to the appropriate front door.

After debuting in the A-Class and receiving acclaim from the industry, including several awards, the AR and AI technologies in MBUX are now being rolled out across more vehicles and are seen as a stepping-stone to consumers embracing more intelligent and autonomous cars. As we inch forward to greater driver assistance, systems such as MBUX mark a significant milestone in that journey.

Written by Gerhard Neussle, SVP Operations Daimler, Connected Car Division at HARMAN