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July 13, 2017

Mercedes-Benz enhances voice control system ‘to new level’

Mercedes-Benz says it is further enhancing the performance of the 'Linguatronic' voice control system on the E-Class.

By David Leggett

Mercedes-Benz says it is further enhancing the performance of the ‘Linguatronic’ voice control system on the E-Class.

It says infotainment, navigation and – for the first time – vehicle functions can now be operated conveniently courtesy of a ‘host of new, intuitive voice commands’.

It adds that the E-Class will also offer even more attractive individualisation options in future. The new Audio 20 entry-level radio features a larger display, new infotainment software and the option of a widescreen cockpit. The equally new Mercedes-Benz SD map navigation turns the radio into a high-end navigation system. Other highlights include online access and car telephony with fast LTE technology plus additional interior appointment options and ambient lighting with dynamic light scenarios.

Mercedes claims the enhanced Linguatronic voice control system is making an ‘evolutionary leap forward on board the E-Class, opening up sophisticated new control options’. For the first time, it allows not only the entertainment system but also vehicle functions to be controlled by voice command. These include the air conditioning functions, for example. When the vehicle is equipped accordingly, blower level, temperature and seat heating can be controlled conveniently by voice command, with no need for drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel or their eyes off the traffic. The same also goes for the rear window heater and various comfort and lighting functions. Another new feature enables the driver to call up a wide range of information – such as the date the next service is due, the current speed limit, the vehicle’s range or the current date.

Finding the right words with ease

Linguatronic uses commands which are incorporated in the software and is thus not reliant on an internet connection. In order to cover the wide range of control options, up to 450 voice commands are available, depending on the language version and the vehicle’s equipment. The commands are designed to be as simple, intuitive and natural as possible, so that drivers will usually phrase the appropriate commands and questions instinctively. “Navigate to xy” is sufficient to launch navigation to the next destination, for example. “Call xy” triggers a call to the desired number and “massage me” initiates the seat’s massage function. Voice control can also be adapted to the user’s personal situation. If the driver’s home address and work address have been saved as favourites, for example, the commands “take me home” or “take me to work” will prompt the navigation system to guide the vehicle to these destinations.

Several hundred alternatives are stored in Linguatronic for each command, resulting in a high likelihood that the user will hit on the right phrase at the first attempt, Mercedes says. By way of additional support, a “teleprompter” presents possible commands on the display as soon as the driver presses the push-to-talk button.

‘Human response’

A new function can further speed up choosing the right voice command. This function allows the user to interrupt the system’s voice output to halt the current dialogue and move on to the next dialogue step, for example. This makes voice control faster and more efficient, it is claimed.

Another new feature lends the voice control system from Mercedes-Benz an appealing human touch. The system avoids always reacting to a command with the same answer, instead varying its response between three or four synonymous sentences. This lends communications with the system a pleasant and ‘almost human touch’, Mercedes claims.

Linguatronic has worked in eleven languages in the past. Eleven additional languages have now been added. 

Mercedes adds that the E-Class will also offer ‘even more attractive individualisation options in future’. The new Audio 20 entry-level radio features a larger display, new infotainment software and the option of a widescreen cockpit. The equally new Mercedes-Benz SD map navigation turns the radio into a high-end navigation system. Other highlights include online access and car telephony with fast LTE technology plus additional interior appointment options and ambient lighting with dynamic light scenarios.

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