What3words is Mercedes' voice-command-oriented sat-nav, which can hone in on three-metre-square areas from three-word voice prompts
Jimi Beckwith
12 September 2017

Mercedes-Benz is to launch a sat-nav system that divides the world into three-metre squares, each with their own three-word reference.

These three-word references then allow the navigation to identify exactly where the driver wants to go, eliminating the relative inaccuracy of current sat-nav systems. The system is designed mainly for voice-command operation.

The system is named What3words and covers all areas of the world - including undriveable places such as mountain regions and oceans - meaning some 57trillion three-word combinations cover the globe. Mercedes aims for the system to be far more reliable than street addresses or postcodes, as rural areas without official addresses can be accessed more easily. The brand also owns 10% of the company, and is the first OEM to invest in the system.

It also allows people to share their location more easily; when giving someone directions, the three-word code is all that's needed to be found, and can be found via the What3words app. To avoid confusion, words which sound the same, for example vane and vein, are not used, nor are words which can be easily mispronounced.

The tech is being displayed at the Frankfurt motor show, where it has already been integrated into a head unit for demonstration. The driver looks up the destination area on the car's GPS, where the system will provide the three-word address. This can then be read to the system, for more accurate directions to the destination. 

The three-word addresses are randomly assigned, although care has been taken to make sure similar three-word addresses are not placed near one another.

Sajjad Khan, vice-president of digital vehicle and mobility, said: “Three-word addresses are very simple to use, meaning drivers can give their car any precise destination and know they’re navigating to the correct location, every time."

The system will be in Mercedes-Benz cars by spring 2018.

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Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes with fine engines and a typically laid-back dynamic character. Not one for the interested driver, but a good advert for being disinterested.

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