"Hey, Mercedes" – new A-Class marks debut of "Siri on wheels"

By Paul Gover, August 8 2018

“G'day Mercedes” is all you need to say get the best from Benz' newest baby.

A breakthrough voice-command system is fitted to the latest A-Class that taps into the car’s artificial intelligence system, recognising hundreds of individual commands.

Unlike simpler systems which work for the satnav and infotainment controls in many cars, the A-Class can do all sorts of extras from opening and closing the sunroof blind to turning the rear passenger reading lights on and off.

Best of all, it will learn the owner’s voice and their way of speaking.

So, although it’s officially called 'Hey Mercedes', and that is the trigger to start the system, it can also easily use AI to recognise “Gidday Mercedes” or “Hiya Mercedes” or a range of other basic commands.

“There are thousands of things it can do,” Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman, Jerry Stamoulis told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of this week's launch of the new A-Class A 200 hatchback, which goes on sale in Australia this Friday priced from $47,200.

"It will learn your voice and how you ask questions. The way one person speaks can be very different to another. You can ask for directions in the satnav, adjust the temperature of the air-conditioning, change the colour of the interior lighting."

‘Hey Mercedes’ is part of the A 200's standard high-tech fitout, which sees two giant TFT touch screens in the dashboard creating a ‘widescreen cockpit’.

There are also touchpad controls on the steering wheel and in the centre console, which also boasts an inductive charging pad for smartphones...

... LED headlights...

... and standard safety systems ranging from nine airbags and auto safety braking, blind-spot warning and active lane-keep assist.

For the first time, the technology in the A-Class is even ahead of Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class flagship. The reason, according to Stamoulis, is the likely buyers.

"A-Class buyers will be much younger. The type of buyer who chooses an A-Class will utilise these features more than any other model. So we chose to bring them first on the A-Class,” he says.

It’s unsaid but recognised that buyers of many Benzes, especially the S-Class are into their fifties and beyond, and some don’t even have an email address or use Facebook or Twitter.

‘Hey Mercedes’ will see a global roll-out across more models, so it's appropriate that the system is designed to recognise a range of accents and languages, including Chinese and Japanese – although its use of a welcoming female voice cannot, at this stage, be changed.

Paul Gover

As Motoring Editor for Executive Traveller, Paul Gover spends less time at his Gold Coast home than he does on the road (literally) test-driving the best of the four-wheel world.

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I wonder how well those displays work when wearing polarised sunglasses

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