Mercedes-Benz revealed more detail of its new integrated MBUX Virtual Assistant previewed ahead of the Christmas holiday break.

Using software and generative AI, the automaker claimed this “game changing development” takes the Hey Mercedes voice assistant “into a whole new visual dimension” with Unity’s high resolution, game, engine graphics on an in-house operating system and will arrive with the first MMA platform model, the next CLA Class.

The system can now offer suggestions based on learned behaviour and situational context.

Four ‘personality traits’ underpin the virtual assistant – natural, predictive, personal and empathetic.

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The customer can choose to speak with the assistant with or without using the keyword Hey Mercedes. Being predictive, the assistant can also offer proactive suggestions and routines based on situational context, learned behaviour and using generative AI. At the same time, a more emotional neural voice that can express different speaking styles generates a sense of empathy. To ensure it is always a very personal assistant, the driver can tailor it to their own specific preferences via a range of options in a central hub.

More natural dialogue is paired with with visual feedback through advanced 3D graphics from the Unity game engine. A ‘living’ star avatar uses animations to express different moods and states of being. Emotions range from calm to excited and even sensitive. Further animations indicate whether the assistant is speaking, listening, thinking, making a suggestion or providing a warning. Movement, brightness, intensity and colour interact to communicate intuitively with the driver.

MBUX surround navigation pairs a real world view of the car’s surroundings with its reactions to it in real time. The driver benefits from significantly enhanced situational awareness by being able to ‘see what the car sees’. For instance, it shows the type of traffic that is ahead by indicating another car, van, truck or a cyclist. It also shows pedestrians close to the roadside and other potential hazards and superimposes route guidance into a realistic representation of the surroundings.

Over the air (OTA) updates will ensure access to the latest content and features tailored to owner wishes and regional preferences.

Meanwhile, starting Q1 2024, the E-Class will have new meetings app where customers can participate in Teams meetings. This, paired with existing offerings with Zoom and WebEx, covers all market leaders for video conferencing. Other apps include Booking.com, getAbstract and Just Eat Takeaway.com. There are plans to introduce cloud-based retro gaming from Antstream Arcade.

Video streaming will be enhanced by an integration of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s (SPE) RIDEVU service.