New car technology goes next level

The next electric car from Mercedes-Benz won’t actually be able to read its driver’s mind, it will just seem that way. Called EQS, this big battery-powered luxury sedan will be the first Mercedes-Benz to feature the company’s new MBUX Hyperscreen.

This door-to-door display array doesn’t just look stunning, it’s also intelligent enough to figure out what you want to see and use on its screens without any asking or icon-tapping.

“You don’t search for functions, they find you,” promised Mercedes-Benz chief Ola Källenius during an online unveiling of the MBUX Hyperscreen. It’s a major upgrade of the company’s existing MBUX, standing for Mercedes-Benz User eXperience, introduced back in 2018.

Behind the 141-centimetre wide piece of curved and contoured glass that’s the face of the MBUX Hyperscreen are real brains, combining raw computing power with artificial intelligence. In computer geek-speak, the system uses eight CPU cores and has 24Gb of RAM.

High-powered computer hardware is an essential ingredient of the MBUX Hyperscreen’s user-friendliness, according to Mercedes-Benz design boss Gorden Wagener. The system is deliberately designed to only display useful or essential information.

This wasn’t easy.

“The hardest thing is to kick out everything that is not necessary,” Wagener says. What the system’s computer power does is ensure that it works with impressive speed.

Mercedes-Benz studied the way owners of earlier MBUX-equipped cars use the technology, and found that 80 per cent of time they were using navigation, entertainment or phone functions. This is the reason the centre MBUX Hyperscreen displays navigation as the default choice.

Across the bottom section of the centre screen there are small inset displays. Mercedes-Benz’s designers call them “Magic Modules”, because the system’s artificial intelligence decides which ones are shown and which remain hidden.

The idea is to make searching and scrolling through on-screen menus a thing of the past, by presenting only relevant items to the driver.

The MBUX Hyperscreen quickly learns a driver’s preferences and habits. For example, it can suggest making phone calls, if these are part of the user’s routine, or switching on the seat heater, if this is what the driver normally does in chilly weather.

The system learns fast. “Adjustments will take place after a couple of drives,” says MBUX Hyperscreen designer Vera Schmidt. “It doesn’t take long for the AI to recognise your behaviour.”

Both the centre and passenger-side screens feature the same OLED technology seen in top-end TV screens. In markets where laws allow, the front seat passenger will be able to watch movies or videos. If the EQS detects the driver is also watching, it will hit pause until they return their gaze to the road.

The instrument display doesn’t feature OLED tech, but one of its modes shows a specially developed EV-specific 3D graphic that combines information on power consumption, regenerative braking and cornering forces.

It looks a little like a UFO flying into a space wormhole. The alternative driver-selectable display is more familiar but sticks with the sci-fi theme. Though it has traditional dials, the needles are made to look like Star Wars light sabres.

MBUX Hyperscreen will be an optional extra on the EQS in Europe, but could be standard in the version that will be exported to Australia. Production of the EQS will begin around April this year.

The EQS is the first Mercedes-Benz to be designed from the beginning to be an EV. The company’s current EQC, a medium-size battery-powered SUV, shares much of its chassis and body technology with the popular GLC.

It’s expected that the EQS will have a WLTP driving range of at least 700km between recharges.

Mercedes-Benz plans to launch three other EQ-branded EVs through 2021. At least initially, MBUX Hyperscreen will be offered only in these models.

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