Mercedes-Benz USA has introduced a claimed first for US drivers: the ability to send directions directly from their computers to their vehicles.

The new technology, called Search & Send, is available from 5 September and was developed in partnership with Google, Yahoo! and DaimlerChrysler Research, Engineering and Design North America in Palo Alto, California.

It is being phased into the US Mercedes-Benz model line starting with vehicles equipped with Tele Aid, the company's telematics and emergency response system.

The Search & Send feature allows drivers to plot destinations, addresses and points of interest through the map sections of the Google or Yahoo! Maps websites and then click on a newly introduced 'send to car' icon. The information is then sent directly to the vehicle's GPS navigation unit.

When the driver gets into the vehicle, pushing the i-button of the Tele Aid system downloads the destination directly to the vehicle's navigation system and prompts the driver as to whether to start route guidance immediately or save the information for later use.

"Given the increasing amount of time people spend in their vehicles, we're always looking for ways to make that time more productive, efficient and enjoyable," said MBUSA's telematics manager Sascha Simon. "The advantage to Search & Send is that customers can surf the internet from their home computers - or from any internet-connected device such as a PDA or cell phone - pick out where they want to go, utilise Google or Yahoo! Maps to get the directions and then send the information to their vehicle. Then they get in the car and go, without having to input addresses into the GPS system.

"They can also have friends or family pull down a destination and send the information to them in the car. We think this will be an extremely well- received progression in our telematics service. It's this type of convenience that customers are looking for, delivered in an intelligent and simple way."

The feature will make its debut in the S-class sedan and CL-class coupe as well as the redesigned C-class that is just reaching US showrooms. It will be phased in on other models during the coming year.

The US-market Mercedes-Benz Tele Aid system, launched in 1998 and provided through Texas-based ATX Group, provides information and location-specific roadside assistance, stolen vehicle recovery and emergency assistance to subscribing owners at the touch of a button.