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Mercedes is building its own AI-powered voice assistant for the car

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Mercedes-Benz, the German automaker owned by Daimler AG, showed off its new voice assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, reports The Verge.

The AI assistant is part of the automaker’s take on the in-car experience, dubbed “Mercedes-Benz User Experience” (MBUX), that infuses AI into traditional vehicle-control systems to help the car better respond to, and even anticipate, user demands.

Mercedes-Benz is hoping this approach will help it remain a major name in the automotive ecosystem of the future, as the growth ride-hailing threatens to reduce the role of automakers.

Voice is a critical interface in the car, making it crucial for automakers to support.Though autonomous cars are coming, there are still no systems available that allow drivers to forego monitoring the vehicle and road at all times. That means hands and eyes remain occupied, and the amount of time a driver can devote to altering in-car settings on a traditional console is limited.

Voice provides a way around this by letting the driver tell the car what to do, so the minutes drivers would typically spend focused only on the road can double as time spent queuing up navigation, changing climate control settings, or consuming media in the growing number of connected cars on the roads — more than 77 million connected cars will ship annually around the world by 2025.

With many automakers seeking help from dominant companies in the voice assistant space, like Amazon and Google, Mercedes-Benz’s choice to go it alone is unique. The AI assistant powering MBUX is apparently capable of indirect command recognition, meaning it can perform tasks like lowering the temperature in the car when the driver says they’re cold, rather than requiring a statement specifying a specific setting for the thermostat. The system also leverages predictive features that can learn from typical driver behaviors, enabling it to set the sound system to a particular radio station automatically or queue up a navigation route based on observed routines.

Ensuring that Mercedes-Benz vehicles boast features that set them apart could be vital for the automaker. As ride-hailing accelerates around the world, consumers won’t have to decide which brand of car to buy, but rather which ride-hailing service to use. Daimler AG has entered into an agreement to supply autonomous vehicles for Uber in the future, and has also invested in ride-hailing startup Via and launched its services in Europe. Offering a unique in-car experience through MBUX could help the company to establish itself as a player in the ride-hailing market, ensuring that the Mercedes-Benz brand stays relevant beyond the era of individual car ownership.

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  • Analyzes trends in digital time spent and the growth of connected cars.
  • Explains the connected-car ecosystem, where service providers fit in, and what relationships they need to succeed in the space.
  • Provides a detailed explanation of the future of connected cars, which will expand media consumption and offer new e-commerce and payments opportunities.

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