At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (MWC; 26 February to 1 March) Mercedes-Benz is presenting innovations and initiatives from a variety of fields as part of its overarching digitisation strategy. The focus at the 280 square metre trade show stand is on systems with artificial intelligence (AI), such as the new multimedia system MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience. The new A‑Class with the intuitive, teachable MBUX is celebrating its show premiere in Barcelona. Up-to-date information about the presence of Mercedes-Benz at the MWC can be found under the hashtag #MBmwc18.
“For a long time now, Daimler has made the digital transformation a core component of its corporate strategy. With the DigitalLife@Daimler initiative, not only are we implementing digitalisation projects, above all we are focussing on the cultural change being driven forward by our employees. From my point of view this is the decisive success factor for digitalisation through which we can further strengthen our competitiveness”, emphasises Wilko Stark, Head of Daimler & Mercedes-Benz Cars Strategy as well as Head of CASE. “The use of artificial intelligence is a central future topic for the Group, be it in Development, Production or the use of vehicles and in mobility services.”
Mercedes-Benz with its CASE strategy is on the way to becoming the digital pioneer of the automobile industry with new business models and digital products. CASE comprises the four future areas of Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services and Electric Drive.
Part of the company’s strategic approach is to invest in relevant start-ups, thus supporting them in their growth. Recent examples of this include the approximately ten percent share in what3words, developer of the three-word address system, and an eleven-percent share in the Israeli start-up Anagog. Based in Tel Aviv, the company was established in 2010 and uses artificial intelligence to analyse user’s movement behaviour with the aid of various sensors in smartphones.
A significant advantage of the Anagog software JedAI SDK is the high level of data protection which allows the user full control of his data. Mercedes-Benz made use of this Software Development Kit for the first time in the EQ Ready App: at the user’s request, it analyses their everyday mobility behaviour and compares it with numerous parameters of electric and hybrid vehicles. In addition, the app also recommends which alternatively powered model by smart or Mercedes-Benz best matches the user’s individual characteristics.
Within the context of the group-wide digitalisation strategy, the following innovations and tech topics with a particular focus on AI are being presented:
- MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience is being used in the entire new compact car generation from Mercedes-Benz and will enter series production in spring 2018 in the new A‑Class. A unique feature of this system is its ability to learn thanks to artificial intelligence. MBUX is individualisable and adapts to suit the user. Map display supplemented by augmented reality is a new feature in navigation. A video image of the surroundings taken with the front camera is augmented with helpful navigation information: street name, house number and directional arrows can automatically be blended onto the touchscreen.
- The new A-Class is already set up for private car sharing: The Mercedes me car sharing app allows a driver to share his or her vehicle with a specified group of users. Friends, family members or colleagues can then easily book the A‑Class for a fixed period of time. The authorised user opens the vehicle using the app and by means of the Mercedes me communication module installed in the vehicle. The A‑Class is started with a key which is left in the vehicle and temporary use of which is likewise enabled over the air by Mercedes me. When returning the vehicle, the driver leaves the key in the vehicle and closes it with the app, thereby bringing the sharing period to an end. The key in the vehicle can be used only during the sharing period.
- With Near Field Communication (NFC), the Digital Vehicle Key in the smartphone employs different technology. However, not every smartphone has an NFC interface that complies with Mercedes-Benz’s security standards. For the new A‑C lass, therefore, there is now a special Digital Car Key Sticker with a built-in microchip available in Germany. Once stuck on the smartphone, the sticker allows contactless opening, closing and starting of the vehicle. To start the engine, the driver simply needs to place their smartphone with the Digital Car Key Sticker in the centre console stowage tray. The Digital Vehicle Key Sticker is also available for a number of car lines in conjunction with digital vehicle key for smartphone.
- The smart vision EQ fortwo offers a new solution for individualised, highly flexible and highly efficient local public transport. Autonomous and electric-powered, the smart vision EQ presents a consistent concept for the future of urban mobility and the future of car sharing. Vision: it picks up its passengers directly from their chosen location and has no steering wheel or pedals.
- smart “ready to” stands for many innovative services from smart that make city life easier. This already includes the private car sharing service smart “ready to share”, the rental concept smart “ready to rent”, the in-car delivery services smart “ready to drop” and smart “ready to drop+” as well as the parking service smart “ready to park+”. Further services will follow.
- “Ask Mercedes” is a virtual assistant from Mercedes-Benz. The new service makes use of artificial intelligence and combines a chatbot with augmented reality functions: questions on displays, functions and use of the vehicle can be typed in on a smartphone screen or asked using voice recognition. Furthermore, in the new S‑Class, E‑Class and A‑Class controls and displays can be explored using a smartphone camera. Apart from textual explanations, images, videos and links to websites or documents are also used in the explanations. “Ask Mercedes” can be used via the smartphone app as well as other communications channels such as Facebook Messenger or Amazon Alexa.
- Fleetboard has developed the Fleetboard Vehicle Lens app in cooperation with Nyris, a Berlin start-up. The aim is to make the takeover of a vehicle easier for truck drivers and to reduce the amount of time required. All the necessary information is displayed in a clear manner on the smartphone: the app recognises the truck’s number plate automatically via the camera. Relevant information for the takeover and the pre-departure check such as tyre data, mileage, next scheduled workshop visit or previous driver are gathered from the Fleetboard system.
- In Barcelona, Daimler Financial Services (DFS) is showing how customer relations of the future might become personalised and interactive with the digital human named Sarah. Sarah uses emotional intelligence and has her own personal face. As a virtual point of contact, customers can contact her round the clock.
4YFN: Stage for new ideas
Daimler is also present with a stand at the “Four Years From Now” (4YFN) trade show for start-ups, which is taking place at the same time in Barcelona. As a conclusion to the Hackathon series “DigitalLife Campus”, which enjoyed global success, Hack.IAA, Hack.Singapore, Hack.Berlin and Hack.Bangalore teams can present their ideas there and chat to the experts. It’s not just external digitally talented people who can take to the stage at 4YFN because the company is simultaneously offering teams of employees the opportunity to present their innovative projects to an expert audience and to receive feedback. Daimler’s appearance at 4YFN is being initiated and organised by the DigitalLife@Daimler strategy, which drives forward digital transformation throughout the group and implements projects on digital change.