Mercedes showed off its new infotainment interface at CES, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX for short. Will owners call it M-bucks? Who knows? Regardless, it’s supposed to make life with your Benz all the better.
Mercedes calls it “an intelligent multimedia system.” Its features appear on the new high-resolution screen that is part of Benz’s “Widescreen Cockpit.” You can communicate with the MBUX several ways: There’s the touchscreen, a touch pad on the center console and touch-control buttons in the steering wheel. Or you can just talk to it and it’ll respond.
“Hey Mercedes” is one thing it’ll answer to, or “Hello Mercedes,” or just “Mercedes.” You can follow up with your request or, if you wait, it’ll ask what you want. We got a drive around the block at CES in Las Vegas to see the new interface in action. My German engineering hosts said to ask it a question.
“Will Bayern Munich take the cup this year?” I asked.
“You must ask it a driving-related question,” said one of my Mercedes hosts from the back seat. (Ha! So it does have limits!)
My Mercedes driver then asked it, “Hey Mercedes, will I need an umbrella tomorrow?” This is something Mercedes engineers are particularly proud of with this new system — the fact that MBUX will respond to somewhat more vague colloquialisms. On the show stand the day before, a Mercedes exec asked MBUX, “Can I wear flip-flops tomorrow?” These particular questions result in a weather report update for the next day in Las Vegas.
“The language understands even if I say it indirectly,” my driver, Christoph, said proudly.
Subsequent questions usually resulted in an appropriate response from MBUX, though not every time. You have to learn to time things a little bit. But overall it seems promising.
The navigation system in our North American MBUXes will include every street in America and Canada, for instance, which Christoph demonstrated by asking for directions to the Vancouver Aquarium. MBUX replied by displaying the route in Mercedes’ “brilliant” 3-D maximum-resolution graphics.” Vancouver is a long way from Vegas.