2021 Mercedes S-Class to Feature a New Augmented Reality Windshield
Mercedes has teased a new Augmented Reality display for its new 2021 S-Class.
Mercedes has had Augmented Reality navigation in the MBUX multimedia system for quite some time. However, users have had to view the display in the center console in order to digitally expand the exterior angle of the cameras thereby taking their eyes off the roadway.
While the current MBUX iteration in Mercedes cars has an optional Augmented Reality navigation and users are able to add a HUD, these two aren’t integrated. As it is today, the AR directions are superimposed onto a view in front of the car on the vehicle’s center infotainment display as viewed via a front-facing camera. While this is a clever design, the driver has to glance away from their direct view of the roadway which can be a safety hazard.
The New Mercedes S-Class AR-HUD
Last week, Mercedes teased a new promising AR-HUD tech that could potentially be the most important aspect of the vehicle’s interior. In the new Mercedes S-Class (2021) set to be officially unveiled in September this year, the Augmented Reality Head-Up Display (AR-HUD) will for the first time move directly onto the windshield as the driver/user will “through” the screen that is projected on the vehicle’s windshield. This enables Mercedes to overlay animated arrows on the driver’s field of view that can assist the track the upcoming turns and junctions. The arrows start blinking out as the driver draws closer to the maneuver and they move around the HUD when the car reorients.
The new AR-HUD promises a major upgrade over what is currently available in the dealerships. The new Mercedes S-Class will have a new huge touchscreen display that will practically dominate the vehicle dashboard. The driver on the other hand will have an Augmented Reality HUD display.
The surroundings will be measured by the luxury sedan’s external cameras along with the radar system so that the navigation indicators will be embedded in the surroundings in perspective, almost like digital signs. The functionality is similar to Google’s AR navigation in the Google Maps.
Visual Driving Assistance Similar to What You Get in a Video Game
Mercedes has stated that the left-turn arrow will appear “on track” at the point on the street where the actual turn is situated instead being simply faded on the driver’s field of vision. As the driver drives towards the arrow, it continues to grow in size.
The AR-HUD system in the S-Class can also digitally-enhance certain aspects of the roadway. The system will, for example, be able to detect edge strips and emphasize them visually when you drive too close to them. The digital distance markings to the car in front of the driver will work in a similar way.
Mercedes’ Augmented Reality driving assistance system is very reminiscent of the elaborate visual driving aids that you would find in video games. In the video below, you can see the various functionalities in use. (Video credits: MIXED.DE)
A 3D Effect Through an Integrated Eye Tracking System
The Augmented Reality display in the windshield provides a field of view of 10 degrees horizontally and 5 degrees vertically. According to Mercedes, this corresponds to a digital display that has a diagonal of 77 inches relative to the driver’s position.
Mercedes stated that the display (a Digital Mirror Device, DMD) has a high-resolution matrix that consists of 1.3 million individual mirrors along with a highly efficient light source, comparable to what you’d get with the cinema projectors. The display was manufactured by Texas Instruments.
Mercedes realized the stereoscopic 3D effect via the combination of a conventional LC display with a special pixel structure along with a controllable LCD stripe mask. The display also features an eye tacking system for the driver’s eye position. The driver is subsequently shown different pixels on the display for each eye.
The system is unlikely to transform the entire windshield into a HUD. Such a functionality still exists only in concept cars. However, Mercedes is bringing forth a considerably larger HUD into the 2021 S-Class that will make the most of the real estate at the disposal of drivers.
The S-Class has been Mercedes’ flagship car in its lineup. It is a luxury sedan model that is still out of reach of many drivers. However, the AR-HUD technologies that have been integrated in the new model set to arrive next year offer us a harbinger of what might eventually trickle down to the more affordable and accessible Mercedes models in the range. This is how it usually works with Mercedes. The high-end technology – be it electronic stability control, passenger’s airbags or new cabin tech- are first introduced in the premium model and then they slowly percolate into the cheaper Mercedes range.
It is therefore likely to be so with the Mercedes’ latest-generation MBUX infotainment system and that is a significant step.