Mercedes-Benz already gave us our first look at the interior of the all-new 2018 A-Class, and is now giving us a detailed insight into its new infotainment system called the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX). The system will come as standard on the next-generation A-Class, which will also be the first model to adopt it.

Before we get to what the system is capable of, let’s first focus on the hardware that it utilises. On mid- and entry-level versions of the system, an NVIDIA Reilly PX graphics chip is used to render the visuals you see on screen. Meanwhile, the high-end one will get a more powerful NVIDIA Parker 128 chip instead.

The head unit will come with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, an NVIDIA Tegra X2 computing unit (two Denver cores and four Cortex-A57 cores and depending on the GPU, between 128 to 256 CUDA Cores. In terms of performance, the system is capable of 59,300 DMIPS and 500 GFLOPS. It also runs on the Linux operating system, and handles USB interfaces (USB 2.0, USB 1.1 and Type C for quicker charging).

On the new A-Class, there will be three versions of the Widescreen Cockpit that will be available – two seven-inch displays, one seven-inch and one 10.25-inch display, and two 10.25-inch display (resolution of up to 1920×720 pixels and 200 dpi).

Interfacing with the system is done via the touchscreen located in the middle of the dashboard, or via the centre console Touchpad and Touch-Control buttons on the steering wheel. There’s also a heads-up display with a maximum brightness of up to 12,000 cd/m².

The operating system comprises three levels, each with increasing information density. The first is what Mercedes-Benz calls the Homescreen, which shows main applications (telephone, navigation and radio) along with important information like arrival time and media status.

Moving deeper into the Basescreen is where the display and controls for one main application is displayed. Important functions such as destination or music search are grouped at the bottom edge of the screen. The Submenu is the final level, and is where seldom-used information and settings reside.

As for the digital instrument cluster, both the left and right “tubes” can be configured to display a wide range of information, including an analogue clock, range, media information, assistance graphic, navigation map, etc. Swap over to a fullscreen mode, and the entire area of the instrument cluster is used for displaying assistance, journey or navigation. Also available to the driver are three display styles – Classic, Sport and Understated.

Personalisation is better improved here, where all settings (seating position, ambient lighting, favourite radio station, orientation of the navigation map,personal predictions, etc.) can be saved in a profile, allowing easy swaps between drivers.

While the improved graphics and tweaked interface are highlights on their own, MBUX also benefits from natural speech recognition that allows the Linguatronic system to obey a more diverse and complex range of commands.

This is a step up from conventional voice control systems, where you might need you to talk like a robot, including specific terms in your speech to access a particular function. For example, “will the sun be shining tomorrow in Miami?” is now as easily understood as “do I need sunglasses tomorrow in Miami?”

Much like most modern intelligent personal assistants out there like Siri and Google Assistant, you can activate the system either via a button on the steering wheel or by uttering the keyphrase “Hey Mercedes.” The carmaker claims the system will also understand indirect speech, like when a user says “I am cold” instead of the clear command “temperature to 24 degrees” in order to operate the climate control.

There is some degree of machine learning baked in too, as the system attunes to the user and non-native speakers better. Furthermore, the software models on the server to learn new buzzwords or changing use of language with time. The system also no longer answers stereotypically, but varies in the dialogue output too. Over time, artificial intelligence gradually turns the car into a personal assistant for the driver.

With better hardware and software, MBUX will also debut with new and improved Mercedes me connect services. These include, among others, navigation functions based on Car-to-X communication and vehicle locating. A dedicated app can also send a reminder to ensure users leave on time to ensure they reach their next appointment punctually, taking into account traffic conditions (navigation map is supplied by HERE).

Integration with smart devices is another important aspect of MBUX, with support for Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto and Baidu CarLife. Thanks to watchOS and Android Wear 2.0 support, drivers can access MBUX functions via their smartwatch. Examples of this functionality include sending directions from the smartwatch directly to the vehicle. This also works with the Mercedes me connected services.

Lastly, augmented reality makes its way into the MUBX navigation function, whereby a video image of the surroundings – taken with the aid of the front camera – is augmented with helpful navigation information. For example, arrows or house numbers are automatically superimposed directly onto the touchscreen image.




GALLERY: 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class interior