Mercedes-Benz is further expanding the possibility of keeping programs and systems in the vehicle up to date through updates over the air (OTA). What started with Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the USA in 2013 is standard for the MBUX infotainment system today. Some twelve million over-the-air updates have now been performed. Many MBUX customers around the world can visit the Mercedes me Store to book and add additional services and optional extras. With over-the-air updates, completely new features enter the vehicle that is already with the customer: updates turn into upgrades.
Updating the navigation maps stored in the vehicle began with the E-Class in 2016. What previously required the insertion of a data medium such as a DVD, or a workshop visit, now takes place automatically over the air every three months, assuming the customer has activated this service in the Mercedes me Portal.
“Over-the-air updates are not new for us. Thanks to our many years of experience and many successfully run OTA campaigns over the years, our customers always have the latest software in the vehicle. With ‘over the air’, it is not just software updates that we can deliver to vehicles already sold, but also features which haven’t even been invented yet. OTA enables the vehicle to become a more and more effective tool for the customer as time goes on”, says Georges Massing, Head of Digital Vehicle & Mobility at Mercedes-Benz AG.
How does over the air work in concrete terms? As soon as a new update is available from Mercedes-Benz, a message is shown in the central display; the download and installation of the update run in the background. Important note: the user then has to agree again explicitly to the activation. In this way, the vehicle is always up to date with software. To transmit the data, Mercedes-Benz relies on mobile radio technology and the communication module installed in the vehicle – this is the most secure way.
A further option for an updated and improved user experience is the additional booking of new functions in the Mercedes me Store: Smartphone Integration such as CarPlay or Android Auto, In-Car Office or the digital radio DAB+ for optimum radio reception are available there. And the best thing of all: services whose subscription has expired can also be renewed quickly and easily online via the Mercedes me Store.
However, some features and services will not even require an update in the vehicle. The reason being that MBUX is a hybrid system and draws upon data and software stored in the vehicle as well as upon information stored in the cloud. This applies, for example, to the voice assistant “Hey Mercedes”. It constantly learns new words and phrases through exchange with the cloud. Questions such as “Where is the nearest pizza place?” or “How did the national football team do today?” naturally also rely on the latest information in the cloud.
In addition, the latest traffic and weather information is constantly transferred to the vehicle, including associated data such as the snow depth in ski areas.
Currently, A-Class customers who have been using MBUX since 2018 are now receiving the additional streaming services TIDAL and Amazon Music, as well as access to the Mercedes me Store in MBUX, while in specific languages MBUX is switching to use the familiar form of “you”. In this way, updates become upgrades.
Depending on the age of the vehicle there are more functions available for downloading which are already on board more recently built models. The A-Class is shown as an example here (the dates will differ for other model series with MBUX):
|Produced from … to …|
|MBUX functions||… 03/2018 to 10/2018||… 10/2018 to 06/2019||… 06/2019 to 06/2020||… 06/2020 to 12/2020|
|Online music: TIDAL||x||on board
|on board ex factory|
|Mercedes me Store||x||x||on board
|on board ex factory|
|The familiar form of “you” (certain countries)||x||x||x||on board ex factory|
|Online music: Amazon Music||x||x||x||x|
x= OTA update possible
The next step in the update strategy of Mercedes-Benz comes with the new S-Class. Its electronics architecture allows over-the-air updating of more than 50 control units in the vehicle and of the entire MBUX system, including the central display, without a workshop visit.