German manufacturer shows off a raft of future connected car technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
Matt Burt
11 January 2014

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its vision of the fully connected car of the future at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

The German manufacturer used the technology expo to highlight several new and conceptual ideas that it believes will link together to transform cars into machines that communicate with other computer devices in our lives.

A key feature is what Mercedes calls ‘Predictive User Experience’, which previews how intelligent cars of the future will learn about their owner’s driving habits using information from the sat-nav and multimedia systems.

“The car learns, adapts, predicts and interacts with the driver,” explained Thomas Weber, Mercedes-Benz’s research and development boss. 

“Imagine this: you get in the car in the morning on a cold winter weekday, and your vehicle already knows that you want to drive to work, and has the fastest route for you based on real-time weather and traffic data, and by the way it also turns automatically the seat heating, steering wheel heating and armrest heating on to your preferred settings.”

Mercedes also highlighted Vehicle Home, a website through which an owner can remotely access data about the car’s performance, basic checks such as fuel levels and tyre pressures, and also analyse their own driving style. Some elements of this concept will be offered with the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive later this year. 

Wearable devices also form an integral part of the plan. A new tie-up with Silicon Valley technology company Pebble has yielded a smart watch that is integrated with the Vehicle Home website and Mercedes' existing Digital DriveStyle smartphone app. It can relay key information such as a vehicle’s fuel level or location, and even tell owners if the car's doors are locked or not.

Mercedes showed how Google Glass could be aligned with a car’s sat-nav system to offer complete ‘door-to-door’ navigation, so that when the driver gets out of his car in a car park, Google’s spectacle-style device will take over guidance to their final destination.

A link-up with Nest Labs, another Silicon Valley automotive company, enables the car to communicate with the heating system in the driver’s house, setting the heating to come on prior to arrival.

One of the major topics of discussion at CES was the continued development of vehicles that are capable of driving autonomously, a concept that most major car manufacturers are currently working on.

Weber pointed out that a modest degree of autonomous driving was possible in the latest Mercedes-Benz S-class and E-class – as well as the C-class due to be unveiled at the imminent Detroit motor show – thanks to the Intelligent Drive suite of driver aids.

Among these is Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, which maintains a safe distance from the car in front and provides lateral lane guidance when the cruise control is engaged, and the radar-controlled BAS Plus braking assist system, which autonomously applies the brakes if it senses the threat of a collision.

However, Weber also conceded that truly autonomous driving on a major scale remains many years away: “Autonomous driving won’t happen overnight. It will need legislation, more detailed map data, more computing power and an intensive social debate.

"We are working full speed to introduce autonomous driving functions into the cars that come to the market in the next years.” 

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the self-proclaimed ‘best car in the world’, is back. Or is it?

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again
  • Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
    First Drive
    13 October 2017
    Off-road estate is now bigger, more spacious and available with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, but is it enough to make its German rivals anxious?