People Stories

A Car That Knows You

March 30, 2018

The best technology seems to understand you. Seamlessly, it knows you and it meets your needs before you express them. That’s one of the unique features of MBUX — Mercedes-Benz User Experience — the company’s latest infotainment system that can learn your habits and anticipate your desires, thanks to artificial intelligence developed by the Machine Learning  team located in Silicon Valley.

MBUX is designed to adapt to the user, creating an emotional connection between the vehicle and driver –  it can also do this with multiple authorized drivers per vehicle. Using a paired smartphone, the system “sees” who’s sitting in the car, and then adjusts the radio station or navigation destination preferences automatically.

Andrew Hill, who heads the Machine Learning and Predictive UX team at MBRDNA in Silicon Valley, worked on MBUX to create a system that is intelligent, intuitive and seamless – with the simple goal to make people’s lives easier. “Along with Research and Development in Germany, we built MBUX from the ground up. Every element was designed to make the car even more intelligent,” he says.

Practically speaking, Hill and his team designed a system that learns your habits: When you are driving, MBUX uses data gathered from your driving to provide suggestions based on what you are likely to do that moment. If you prefer to listen to a particular radio station in the morning and then call your spouse after work, it will suggest these options on the main screen in the center console — and elsewhere, wherever a keyboard appears, to reduce distraction while driving.

MBUX will also suggest destinations for route guidance. It features a set of opt-out privacy options to tailor to the preferences and comfort level of the individual customer — including an incognito mode to temporarily disable learning. All of these features are profile specific, so two people sharing the car will have their individualized settings and each will see individually personalized suggestions, customized for their profile.

Users can interact with MBUX using their voice, but also via the multitouch screen in the center console, which allows you to touch, swipe and pinch. If you want to change a vehicle setting, the menu features animations of the vehicle — you only have to tap various parts of the car to access relevant settings.

The intelligent system can also integrate with your smartwatch, smartphone, and smart speaker outside of the car. With these integrated devices, drivers can perform tasks such as checking the fuel level while at the office or sending travel destinations to the car while still at home. Over-the-air updates make sure the system and related applications it accesses are always up to date.

Hill and his colleagues entirely developed the MBUX system’s ability to provide intelligent suggestions, starting with the algorithms to model driver behavior and culminating with deploying production software to the car. What was it like to work on this system? Says Hill, “It was a great experience. And to see our ideas come to life is very exciting.”

Mercedes-Benz launched the multimedia system MBUX at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas 2018. It will debut in the new 2018 A-Class series.