Technology is turning up the dial on driver comfort, convenience, and entertainment

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on July 25, 2018

Connected cars, artificial intelligence (AI), and other arcane technologies promise to revolutionise the auto industry over the next few years. But while much of the hype focuses on driverless vehicles, the in-car infotainment revolution is already here. With next generation infotainment systems filtering into the mainstream, second hand dealers will be expected to know what is available now, and what buyers can look forward to in the near future.

Advanced driver experience

The latest version of Mercedes’ MBUX user experience system exemplifies the breathtaking pace of the in-car infotainment revolution. MBUX is a connected system that uses AI and deep learning to create an intuitive interface and true personalisation. It gets to know your preferences and acts on them.

What does that mean in practice? For a start, it means you can talk to your car, and do so in a natural way. Tell it you’re hungry and it will list restaurants nearby. Say, “I’m cold,” and it will recognise context and turn the heating up. It lets you write text messages by talking.

Advanced voice recognition is only one feature of the system. When you get in, MBUX adapts heating, light, audio, and seating to your individual preferences. It gets to know your habits, too, so when you set off, the system recognises a common route and starts navigation accordingly. Augmented reality makes sure you get exactly where you want to go, overlaying pictures of your real surroundings.

Mainstream adoption

There’s much more, but a really interesting thing about MBUX is that it can be found in the latest Mercedes A Class, launched this spring. Mercedes is a luxury brand and the A Class is not a cheap car, but it is a compact one. Connected technology is filtering into the mainstream.

Needless to say, other manufacturers are developing their own connected systems. General Motors has teamed up with IBM to create OnStar Go, a system capable of locating petrol stations and paying remotely, pre-ordering your coffee at the drive-thru, and reminding you to buy common items as you near a particular shop, among other commerce-focused innovations.

BMW, meanwhile, wants drivers to take its AI with them wherever they go. The company’s Connected app sits on your smartphone and syncs with your calendar, checking traffic conditions and alerting you at the perfect time to set off for your meeting. It then makes sure the best route is preloaded into the in-car SatNav.

Explain and advise

These are three examples among many. Suffice to say that manufacturers have grasped the potential of AI and connected technology to enhance the driving experience. Used car buyers will increasingly expect dealers to explain and advise on these features. The buzz around AI and connected vehicles has focused on autonomous cars, but machine learning and big data mean the in-car infotainment revolution has already begun.

Topics: infotainment, technology