Mercedes-Benz’ fully Internet-based infotainment system, myCOMAND, has now passed its first on-road test. During the Nokia Siemens Networks Solutions Forum 2009 in Munich, myCOMAND was run for the first time on a 4G wireless high-speed LTE (Long Term Evolution) network. Driving the S-Class prototype on normal roads produced a shining outcome: all myCOMAND features prove smooth and enhanced performance, with high resolution and improved quality. The roll-out of wireless technologies such as LTE, is a necessary prerequisite for myCOMAND connectivity. This first trial is an important milestone on the way to product realization of myCOMAND features and applications.
The research project myCOMAND for a completely new Internet-based infotainment experience was first launched in 2008: Using Internet connectivity, all data and features are seamlessly kept fresh and current at all times. All functions are concentrated on one attractively designed user interface for easy and intuitive access.
Until today all myCOMAND functions had been run on wired or lower-bandwidth wireless connections such as UMTS. To realize the full potential of new and useful telematics and infotainment applications in automobiles – as in myCOMAND – Internet has to be available almost everywhere in a mobile environment via cellular network with a higher bandwidth than what is available today. This is also a technical prerequisite for the series introduction of functions like the ones myCOMAND offers.
Wireless network providers and technology experts do not expect this wireless Internet coverage and performance to be a reality until a few years from now, but Mercedes-Benz already proved today how lower latency and higher bandwidth can boost automobile Internet-run functions like those in myCOMAND. At the test-ground in Munich, a LTE network was built up that supports bandwidths of five to 25 Mbps when multiple vehicles are moving at average speeds of 40 km/h. This is about two to eight times greater than with today’s telecommunication networks. The improvement in performance is significant: Most of myCOMAND features run smoother, maps load faster, higher quality audio and video can be streamed, and street view images with brilliant resolution can load quickly.
myCOMAND: Diverse personal services and unlimited entertainment
”In the areas of both information and entertainment, the entirely Internet-based solution affords decisive advantages over traditional systems found in today’s vehicles”, comments Johann Jungwirth, Head of the Mercedes-Benz Research & Advanced Engineering Lab in Palo Alto, California. Every time the engine starts myCOMAND automatically updates itself via the Internet and thus continuously provides up to date software. All retrieved data and information are always up to date, too, and available to the occupants in a simple and easy manner. Compared with current mobile devices, and in-dash systems, with myCOMAND the features and contents are not only up to date through the Internet, but are also presented in a much more user-friendly manner. The system offers the driver individually appropriate Internet services depending on the situation, making the whole experience more reliable and safer to use.
Thanks to the vast variety of information in the Internet, the optimum integration and absolute freshness enable unparalleled functionality. The most important new services of myCOMAND are:
Off-board navigation. It not only always works with the latest map, but also takes the traffic information available on the Internet into account for route selection. Along with the conventional map display it is also possible to show satellite images which enable easier orientation. The search for destinations no longer follows a rigid format; free input is possible. And destinations can be combined with up-to-the-minute data so that the driver can easily find, for example, the cheapest gas station in vicinity or along a route.
Trip Assist. This service automatically accesses the large amount of information available on the Internet and presents it to the driver in optimally edited form at the right time. This way the system can offer up-to-date information and services in the car. The Trip Assist of myCOMAND shows, for example, the weather along the route and informs the user about the hotels and leisure facilities at the destination. Making hotel reservations from the car is no problem for the Trip Assist; reserving a table at a restaurant or theater tickets at short notice likewise is a simple, stress-free process.
World Radio. Via Internet you can tune to practically every radio station in the world – while traveling in your car, you can even get radio stations from the other side of the world. With the World Radio of myCOMAND the driver can search for stations by genre to find the ones that cater to his or her individual music taste. Additionally, you can store your personal music library on the Internet, which is then available anytime worldwide in the car.
Internet telephony: With myCOMAND the telephone, like all other services, can also utilize the advantages of the Internet. Thanks to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), myCOMAND enables putting free or discounted phone calls, sending short messages via Internet and simultaneously transmitting voice and data.
Of course, a web browser additionally allows you to freely surf the Internet while the vehicle is parked.
myCOMAND is programmed so that it automatically collects from the Internet all information necessary for a service – be it hotel descriptions, weather forecasts or the details of available parking spaces – and puts it together to provide the desired service. There is no complicated searching via browser. This greatly speeds up access to data.
Attractive looks, intuitive operation
myCOMAND not only offers many new options, but is attractively designed for intuitive operation. The centrally arranged display has a brilliant resolution that is optimally positioned in the driver’s field of vision so that he or she can better keep an eye on the road. The myCOMAND controller – an ergonomically optimized rotary pushbutton on the center consol – enables simple, accurate operation.
The Home screen shows a stylized globe. All selectable functions revolve around it, moved by turning the rotary pushbutton; with a push you select the menu item in the foreground. The design of the menu, circling a symbolic globe, is not merely an optical delight; it greatly simplifies operation in conjunction with the rotary pushbutton and its synchronized circular motion.
By means of two buttons next to the central control, additional functions such as the menu options can be called up. Also, the “back” button enables quickly correcting any wrong entries. Connection with LINGUATRONIC in the future will enable operating myCOMAND also by voice.
myCOMAND lays the foundation for optimal use of the Internet in the car. The Mercedes-Benz researchers expect that it will take a few more years until LTE will be available globally and such a system is available in production cars.
LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the last step toward the 4th generation of radio technologies designed to increase the capacity and speed of mobile telephone networks. Where the current generations of mobile telecommunication networks are collectively known as third generation (3G), LTE is marketed as 4G and is a set of enhancements to the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS).