Real-time 3D platformer and mobile game developer Unity Technologies will power the infotainment area of the new Mercedes-Benz operating system.
The infotainment area is a key part of the German automaker’s plan to expand its digital offerings. Mercedes’ current infotainment platform, MBUX, was co-developed by Daimler and Luxoft, a unit of DXC Technology.
The new Mercedes-Benz operating system, or MB.OS, will debut in 2024 model year vehicles and will improve four core areas – infotainment, automated driving, body and comfort, and powertrain , the automaker announced on Monday.
“With our own operating system, we want to achieve three key goals: shaping the user interface according to a luxury brand, creating two-way communication with the customer, and integrating the customer’s digital lifestyle into the vehicle domain”, Magnus said. Östberg, chief software officer of Mercedes-Benz, said Automotive News in an email.
Unity provides the development platform and runtime architecture that will power all Mercedes-Benz in-car experiences with MB.OS. The company claims a dominant position in the gaming world. Unity claims that it powers 70% of all mobile games on the market and the majority of augmented and virtual reality technologies.
Mercedes-Benz developers will use Unity Industrial Collection, the technology company’s 3D product visualization software suite, to create user interface and user experience designs for the entire Digital Cockpit, including the dashboard and multimedia and passenger screens, across the entire range of vehicles.
Unity offers the developer the ability to leverage 37 different hardware, software, handset and social media platforms, said Dave Rhodes, senior vice president and general manager of Unity’s Digital Twins division.
“This expertise also allows us to ensure that these experiences are optimized for the hardware that is running in the vehicle,” he said.
Unity and Mercedes-Benz began collaborating five years ago on real-time 3D experiences in the automaker’s prototype research vehicles, including the Vision EQXX concept that was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas in January.
Unity’s real-time 3D development platform will build on the ideas presented in EQXX to deliver in-vehicle experiences, including 3D avatars that serve as virtual assistants and 3D maps for richer navigation . The system will also provide experiences enhanced by augmented reality and artificial intelligence that adjusts vehicle settings and behaviors to users’ habits and preferences.
“Interaction between humans and vehicles is increasingly based on voice assistants, touchscreens and smart surfaces,” Östberg said.
Mercedes-Benz sees the automotive industry moving towards a highly responsive, intelligent and software-driven future in which vehicles anticipate the needs of occupants, communicating with them in real time through immersive 3D styling, he said.
The automaker’s new infotainment offerings with MB.OS will also include immersive gaming and messaging apps, audio streaming and video streaming. Additionally, the operating system will power the automaker’s first video and audio streaming offerings with passenger experience technology company Zync.
“We’ll see entirely new visualizations powered by our 3D Unity game engine, creating an extremely realistic representation of the real world,” Östberg said. “That’s what we call ‘digital luxury’.”
Mercedes-Benz’s partnership with Unity comes as automakers seek more innovative ways to expand in-car entertainment offerings.
Other automakers have used Unity’s game engine to prototype digital in-cab experiences, Rhodes said.
Delivering some early versions of in-car entertainment in Mercedes-Benz production vehicles has allowed the tech company to learn how its vision is coming to fruition commercially while navigating dynamics such as privacy issues, ads and the ability to play mobile games, Rhodes said.
“It’s a way for us to capture an innovator, but also someone who makes these visionary things practical and allows us to make sure that we’re developing the right products and services to support that,” Rhodes said.