Mercedes ups interior intuition

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In an S-Class, and especially in the car’s main markets of China and the USA, the boss often sits in the rear, says Mercedes-Benz. Accordingly, the auto maker has systematically designed the new edition of its flagship model with the rear passenger in mind. For example, occupants in the rear have the same infotainment and comfort features as the driver and front passenger, including access to up to three touchscreens and a variety of different control options.

As a flagship vehicle, the new S-Class has been chosen by Mercedes to debut the second generation of its MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). This, it said, brings a host of extra functionality for occupants, such as multiple modes of authentication for access to the system interface and to complete tasks such as digital payments.

However, the standout feature of the latest MBUX is its ability to network with a wide range of vehicle systems and sensor data. For example, the exit warning function in the S-Class now uses cameras to recognize that an occupant wants to leave the vehicle. Beyond simply catering for company executives, the car’s Interior Assist system also provides functions such as checking whether a child seat is correctly attached to the front passenger seat.

In terms of user displays, there are a number of options available, including a choice of two augmented reality head-up displays (HUD). The larger of these two displays an image which appears virtually at a distance of 10m ahead of the car, across the equivalent of a 77in screen. The HUD’s image-forming unit (a digital mirror device [DMD] by Texas Instruments) consists of a high-resolution matrix of 1.3 million individual mirrors combined with an efficient light source.

The ‘traditional’ dashboard is a 3D, auto-stereoscopic display, which uses a combination of a conventional LCD display with a special pixel structure and a controllable LCD aperture grille. What is known as a barrier mask is positioned a few millimeters in front of the LCD. This is precisely adjusted to the head position of the viewer so that the left and right eye see different pixels of the LCD. This creates the desired impression of depth.

A stereo camera system is integrated into the display to determine the eye position of the viewer. The end result is that the image in the driver display is continuously adjusted to account for the location of the driver’s head, providing a consistent image.

The S-Class’s Interior Assist system also tries to pre-empt a driver’s wishes, by interpreting their head direction, hand movements and body language, and responds with corresponding vehicle functions. For example, if the driver looks over their shoulder toward the rear window, Interior Assist automatically opens the sunblind. If the driver is looking for something on the front passenger seat in the dark, it automatically switches the light on.

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