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Mercedes Benz Reveals the New Flagship S Class with the NVIDIA-powered MBUX Cockpit

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【Summary】Luxury automaker Mercedes Benz unveiled the full features the redesigned flagship S-Class sedan today. As expected, the 2021 Mercedes Benz S Class will come packed with technology. Among the most notable features of the new S Class is it’s widescreen AI-Powered MBUX cockpit. The MBUX intelligent display in the new S Class was developed along with Nvidia.

FutureCar Staff    Sep 02, 2020 2:30 PM PT
Mercedes Benz Reveals the New Flagship S Class with the NVIDIA-powered MBUX Cockpit

Luxury automaker Mercedes Benz unveiled the full features the redesigned flagship S-Class sedan today. As expected, the 2021 Mercedes Benz S Class will come packed with technology. Among the most notable features of the new S Class is it's widescreen AI-Powered Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) cockpit. The new intelligent MBUX system represents a significant step toward a software-defined future for the luxury automaker. 

The MBUX intelligent display in the new S Class was developed along with Nvidia. It will eventually be rolled out in other new Mercedes Benz models.

For Mercedes Benz, the latest S Class represents the future of the brand. That future includes vehicles with advanced AI-powered computing technology from chipmaker Nvidia combined with the automotive expertise of Mercedes. 

"For decades, the magic moment in car manufacturing was when the chassis received its engine," Källenius said. "Today, there's another magic moment that is incredibly important — the ‘marriage' of the car's body and its brain — the all-new head unit with the next-level MBUX-system."

The latest S Class will feature the next-generation MBUX AI-powered cockpit system, with an augmented reality (AR) head-up display, AI voice assistant andrich interactive graphics allowing every passenger in the vehicle, not just the driver, to enjoy personalized, intelligent features.

The MBUX system can recognize vehicle occupants by their voices. Once the individual characteristics of the voice have been learned, a user can activate a personal profile. This makes personal data and functions accessible to each user. Voice recognition is in real time, using a special authentication process.

The intelligent system can also recognize eye-direction, hand gestures and the body language of each occupant, to assist with automatic vehicle functions as needed.

"This S-Class is going to be the most intelligent Mercedes ever," said Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius during the virtual launch of the flagship sedan.

Some of the new intelligent features found in the new S Class have never been offered in a vehicle before. Driver can also customize the look of the entire interface. The appearance of the driver display and central display screens offer a choice of four display styles, Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive and Classic.

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The MBUX intelligent system includes 5 screens for both front and rear seat passengers.

Modern vehicles are becoming more like computers on wheels and the world's automakers are turning to tech partners like Nvidia to help build the hardware and software that will power future vehicle systems.

The S-Class's new computer headroom is massive. The flagship sedan contains about the same computing power as 60 average vehicles, Nivida said. Just a single chip each controls the MBUX 3D cluster, infotainment system and rear seat displays.

"There's more computing power packed into this car than any car, ever— three powerful computer chips with NVIDIA GPUs," said NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang. "Those three computer chips represent the brain and the nervous system of this car."

Mercedes Benz first revealed its new MBUX cockpit at CES in 2018. It was designed to revolutionize how drivers and passengers interact with their vehicles.

The MBUX system includes cutting edge graphics and natural language processing. It's also built with enhanced security. The system supports fingerprint, face and voice recognition, as well as alongside a traditional PIN to access personal features.

The MBUX system in the new flagship S-Class features five large screens, including a 12.8-inch center-mounted infotainment screen with OLED technology. Two different head-up displays (HUDs) are available on request, including a 3D driver display option at the touch of a button, which offers a more realistic view of the car in its surroundings. The effect is similar to a driver wearing 3D glasses.

The MBUX also supports conversational AI with a built-in voice-powered assistant. It can answer a wider range of questions, some without the key phrase "Hey Mercedes." The MBUX system supports 27 languages, including Thai and Czech, according to Nvidia.

The system runs on high-performance, energy-efficient NVIDIA GPUs for lightning fast AI processing and sharp graphics.

"Mercedes-Benz is a perfect match for NVIDIA, because our mission is to use AI to solve problems no ordinary computers can," said NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang. "The technology in this car is remarkable."

The new infotainment system aims to use AI to adapt itself to drivers and passengers. It can suggest some favorite music for the drive home, or offer directions to a favorite restaurant at dinner time.

The interior cameras can even detect if a passenger is about to exit into oncoming traffic and warns them before they open the door. The same technology is used to monitor whether a child seat is correctly attached and if the driver is paying attention to the road.

These advanced functions are the result of over 30 million lines of code written by hundreds of software engineers, who are continuously developing new and innovative ways for customers to enjoy their drive, the companies said.

"These engineers are practically in your garage and they're constantly working on the software, improving it, enhancing it, creating more features, and will update it over the air," Jensen said. "Your car can now get better and better over time."

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The 2021 Mercedes Benz S Class

The partnership between Nvidia and Mercedes Benz will continue beyond the new S Class MBUX system to other Mercedes models.

In June, Mercedes Benz announced that its future vehicles will have a software-based architecture. Mercedes Benz says it's developing an entirely new software-based architecture that supports over-the-air updates for its next generation vehicle fleet using NVIDIA's AI-powered DRIVE platform.

The automaker and Nvidia announced a partnership that will allow vehicle owners to add new software to their vehicles keeping them up to date with new features, including adding new software that supports higher levels of automated driving.

The advanced software-based vehicle architecture will be introduced beginning with 2024 model year vehicles, eventually rolling out to the entire Mercedes Benz fleet globally. However some OTA updates will be available in the 2021 S Class.

More than 50 electronic components can be updated with new software over-the-air. This includes the entire MBUX infotainment system, the driver display, the driving assistance systems and digital lighting systems. 

The next-gen Nvidia-powered MBUX system also has fewer moving parts, making it easier to integrate into production vehicles. The simplified architecture creates more headroom to add new features.

A vehicle's cockpit typically requires multiple electronic control units and switches to perform basic functions, such as powering entertainment or adjusting the climate controls. Leveraging NVIDIA's technology, Mercedes-Benz was able to consolidate all of these components in the new S Class. 

The automaker said it was able to remove 27 switches and buttons, which are now controlled via the MBUX system.

The 2021 S Class is expected to arrive at dealers in the first half of 2021.

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