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Mercedes Introducing AI-powered Virtual Assistant at CES

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Mercedes CES Surprise: AI Assistant to Revolutionize Driving with Human-Like Interaction & Game-Engine Graphics.

Mercedes-Benz will show the next evolution of its MBUX infotainment system and MB.OS software platform at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show. Visitors to Mercedes‘ booth can meet the luxury automaker’s new AI-powered virtual assistant, which promised to take the “driver-car relationship into a new dimension with a natural, human-like interaction.” We’re also told to expect “class-defining new features and collaborations” for in-car entertainment, dazzling with “an expressive new face” utilizing Unity’s game-engine graphics. No hint of what that looks like yet; a brief preview clip only shows a generic animation of stylized three-pointed stars.

The dawn of in-car AI assistants grows brighter, though. At CES this year, BMW used its keynote to unveil its Digital Emotional Experience, otherwise known as an AI-powered “companion” named DEE, which also happened to be the anthropomorphic namesake of the iVision Dee concept car. In March came stories of General Motors looking into using OpenAI’s ChatGPT for a virtual assistant, and in August, stories that GM was using Google tools like Dialogflow to handle some OnStar requests. Volvo started with ChatGPT outside the car, working with Meta on a WhatsApp integration to help shoppers learn about the new EX30; this type of effort comes two years after Toyota put an AI assistant named Joya into the Sienna minivan to help owners learn about their new rides. Today, we learned that TomTom and Microsoft are teaming up on AI.

Some observers consider AI-powered assistants the ideal tech for cars, the hope being the AI can answer questions and execute commands well enough to keep a driver focused on driving, not screens. As Mercedes said, “Soon, participants who ask the Voice Assistant for details about their destination, to suggest a new dinner recipe, or to answer a complex question, will receive a more comprehensive answer – while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.” 

The new girl from Stuttgart takes a virtual bow on Friday, January 9, in Las Vegas, from the Concept CLA battery-electric sedan. A camouflaged example of the electric G-Class prototype will also be in attendance.

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