Home Technology Mercedes-Benz presses the accelerator to create its own operating system

Mercedes-Benz presses the accelerator to create its own operating system

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Tesla may have been the first to lead the way, but all automakers are gradually realizing that software is key to the future of the industry. More than the hardware, it is the code that manages all the components, which will make it possible to gradually replace the driver behind the wheel and for the moment that controls the interfaces placed in the cabin, it is all these software elements that make the difference.

Faced with this observation, companies can follow two different paths: create their own in-house operating system or use a turnkey system. In this second camp, Android Automotive developed by Google is winning more and more battles, but some manufacturers are following their own path.

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This was the case of Volkswagen, which has developed an ambitious strategy for the group’s cars, with software placed at the heart of the experience and remote updates to improve it. Its national competitor Mercedes-Benz seems to be following the same path, with the ambition of developing MB.OS, its own operating system for its vehicles. The first version is planned for 2024 and Reuters reports that the company has opened a new development center in Sindelfingen, a suburb of Stuttgart.

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Image published by Mercedes-Benz when it announced the choice of Sindelfingen to open this development center.

This center cost 200 million euros and should accommodate 750 developers who will work on the development of MB.OS. It’s a great team already, but that’s only part of the equation, as Mercedes-Benz plans to hire 3,000 employees worldwide just to create and maintain this operating system. In total, about 10,000 people within the group are expected to work on the software alone, a sign of the importance of this branch.

To support this software strategy, Mercedes-Benz has signed an agreement with Nvidia, which will provide the chips essential to the proper functioning of the operating system. Nvidia will also participate in developments, particularly on the side of autonomous driving. To date, Tesla is one of the few — if not the only — automakers to have created its own chips for this task, but even the California company relies on a third party, in this case AMD, for the infotainment part.

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The choice of an in-house operating system allows manufacturers who follow this path to offer an original experience, truly different from any that exist on the market. The proof again with the new Smart #1 presented in recent days by Mercedes-Benz and the Chinese Geely who both own the brand. Its infotainment is based on a specific system, with a very original interface for once, since it looks like a video game with in particular a virtual avatar that we can choose, or even a kind of small 3D planet in the center of the screen.

The specific interface of Smart #1 (image InsideEVS).

An originality which is accompanied by a closure which recalls, once again, the strategy of Tesla. At launch, the Smart #1 will not be compatible with CarPlay or Android Auto. Although this may happen via a remote update, InsideEV note that it is a real choice on the part of its designers, who consider that the in-house software is of better quality. We will have to wait for the tests of the final versions to judge, the pre-series vehicles presented to the press in recent days not having functional software.

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