Innovation


Revealed: the automotive tech trends of 2021.

27 January 2021

From augmented reality to facial recognition technology, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class range offers an exclusive window into the future of driving.

Innovation


Revealed: the automotive tech trends of 2021.

27 January 2021

From augmented reality to facial recognition technology, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class range offers an exclusive window into the future of driving.

It has been an unexpectedly warm day; you’re driving home in the comfort of your climate-controlled Mercedes-Benz, but a sweltering house awaits. How good would it be to be able to simply say: “Hey Mercedes, set my home temperature to 18 degrees”?

This is one example of the connected future we’ve been waiting for, and it’s here now. In 2021, we can expect to become accustomed to automotive features that once seemed fanciful. New levels of intuition and connectivity will turn once laborious chores into simple tasks that are executed before we’re even aware they needed doing.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior screens with MBUX technologu

The newly minted Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers a window into the 2021 automotive tech trends that have already arrived. Image: Daimler.

You only need look as far as the newly-minted flagship of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range, the indomitable S-Class, for a window into the 2021 automotive tech trends that have already arrived.

The example above showcases two of the most exciting applications of the relentless pursuit of technological excellence by Mercedes-Benz. First, the feature-packed S-Class, the flagship limousine that sets the standard for the entire automotive industry, which goes on sale in Australia early in 2021. Second, Mercedes-Benz Smart Home, the technology connecting highly intelligent Mercedes-Benz vehicles to ‘smart’ homes equipped with automated features such as lamps, sockets, thermostats, shutters or blinds, or motion detectors.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior technology

Ask Mercedes offers virtual assistance in the car and explains cars functionalities via augmented reality. Image: Daimler.

“Hey Mercedes, is everything OK at home?” you might enquire, prompting a remote interrogation of all connected devices in the house. The answer might be: “All the windows are closed, and the light is still on in the bedroom.”

In fact, the new S-Class offers some significant clues to the trends you can expect to see filtering through the Mercedes-Benz range in 2021, and beyond. Here’s a quick taster for six other automotive technologies making their debut on the S-Class:

Augmented reality head-up display

This extends the comprehensive information offered by existing Mercedes-Benz HUD systems by projecting augmented reality content into the driver’s eyeline, showing helpful information that appears to blend into the surroundings ahead of the vehicle, contributing to reduced distraction. For example, upon approach to a road junction, an arrow would virtually overlay the correct lane to take, saving the driver from taking their eyes off the road to glance at a navigation screen.

3D display

The new 3D driver display allows a spatial view at the touch of a button for the first time with a real three-dimensional effect achieved with the help of eye-tracking, and without 3D glasses.

Extra personalisation

Eye tracking, face and voice recognition can be utilised to initiate the driver’s personal profile, with up to 800 parameters including music, lighting and temperature preferences, plus memory positions for seating, mirrors and even preferred massage programs. Using these biometric authentication measures, it’s even possible for a recognised user to start the vehicle without its key.

Enhanced voice control

The voice assistant ‘Hey Mercedes’ now supports 27 languages with natural language understanding (NLU), enabling greater interaction on a wide range of topics. It can activate a specific profile based on the individual’s voice, act on consecutive commands and explain different functions, such as how to connect a phone by Bluetooth.

Flush-mounted door handles

Retracting almost seamlessly into the vehicle’s smooth flanks, the door handles are electronically extended when the driver approaches with the key in their possession, or when the outer surface of the door handle is stroked. The handle extends to a parallel position, offering a much larger grip than pivoting handles, and aerodynamic benefits when retracted.

MBUX Interior Assist

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior screens with MBUX technology

Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, MBUX Interior Assist anticipates the wishes of each occupant. Image: Daimler.

Cameras in the overhead control panel and algorithms help to recognise and anticipate occupants’ wishes and intentions. Head direction, hand movements and body language can all be interpreted to activate a vehicle function. If the driver looks over their shoulder towards the rear window, the sunblind automatically opens. If the driver is looking for something on the front passenger seat in the dark, a light is switched on. The system also recognises natural hand movements, so the driver or passengers can open the sliding sunroof with a wave of the hand.

By Steve Colquhoun