Mercedes-Benz Architecting Its Own Operating System
In-house computer OS joins all-new vehicle platform architecture to enhance automated driving, OTA updates and other features.
Mercedes-Benz revealed in late February that it is developing its own computer operating system, dubbed MB.OS, which it said will be standardized across the company’s entire model portfolio when deployment begins “mid-decade” in concert with the introduction of the equally new Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) vehicle platform. The MB.OS will have full access to all vehicle domains, including infotainment, automated driving, body and comfort, vehicle dynamics and battery charging.
Based on a chip-to-cloud architecture, the company asserted MB.OS “is designed to connect the major aspects of the company's value chain, including development, production, omni-channel commerce and services ─ effectively making it an operating system for the entire Mercedes-Benz business.” The MB.OS architecture is completely updateable to enable rapid product upgrades and is “deliberately open for selected partners,” the company said. It also discreetly added that the new system is planned to “enhance customer lifetime value” by facilitating customer purchases such as content, services and vehicle functionalities ─ a strategy that already has been evidenced in embryonic efforts by competing automakers to enable certain vehicle features, for example, on a subscription-type basis.
“We made the decision to be the architects of our own operating system – a unique chip-to-cloud architecture that leverages its full access to our vehicles' hardware and software components, explained Ola Källenius, Mercedes-Benz CEO. “By combining this in-house expertise with a selection of world-class partners, we will create an outstanding customer experience, from driving assistance, navigation and entertainment, all the way to integrated charging. MB.OS will feature full upgradeability and constant improvements."
For automated driving, the company said it intends to develop SAE Level 2 driver-assistance “tailored for urban use cases” and Level 3 functionality at speeds up to 80 mph (130 km/h). Using MB.OS, such systems also will leverage new partner Nvidia’s DRIVE architecture and machine-learning capabilities.Other features enabled by the MB.OS include enhanced infotainment features taking full advantage of the company’s “hyperscreen” style of full-dash digital display, as well as OTA upgrades. The OTA updates will be available to a variety of vehicle systems grouped into three main areas: MB Connect, MB Charge (the company’s in-development global public DC fast-charging network) and MB Drive.
Mercedes-Benz said partners in the new operating system include NVIDIA for software, data and artificial intelligence — and its Orin system-on-chip (SoC) to augment SAE Level 2 and Level 3 automated-driving systems; Mercedes-Benz announced at CES 2023 that its Drive Pilot Level 3 driver-assistance system was approved for public-highway use in Nevada. The company said at that time that it expected similar approval from California.
Drive Pilot relies on lidar, and MMA-based models will be equipped with next-generation sensors, the company said in a release, including lidar developed by Luminar, another MB.OS partner. Mercedes-Benz said in a release that a “comprehensive set of sensors” will be available with the new MMA platform and will be specifically designed to address the demands of high-density urban environments and traffic situations. The Level 2 operations will allow hands-free operation, but the driver’s attention must stay focused on the road. Nvidia’s Orin chip is integral to managing Level 2 and Level 3 use and is capable of 254 trillion operations per second.
On the same day that Mercedes-Benz announced the MB.OS, it also confirmed a “long-term strategic collaboration with Google to develop and implement a next-generation in-car navigation experience.” Mercedes-Benz said it will build its own branded navigation using new in-vehicle geospatial data and navigation capabilities from Google Maps. Google and Mercedes-Benz also said the companies would “explore further collaboration using Google Cloud's leading artificial intelligence (AI), data and open infrastructure solutions.”
The company openly states that its strategy for software and hardware integration is intended to facilitate a long-term revenue stream from customers paying for the services and features the system provides. “The company expects total software-enabled revenues coming from MB.CONNECT and MB.DRIVE to grow to a low-to-mid single-digit billion euro figure by mid-decade,” Mercedes-Benz said in a release, “evolving to a high single-digit billion euro figure by the end of the decade.”
Mercedes-Benz stressed that software is intended to represent a substantial portion of the company's current and future product-development investments. It said that by mid-decade, 25% of its total R&D budget will be allocated to software developmen