Mercedes-Benz has partnered with musician and entrepreneur Will.i.am to create an interactive music experience for its cars.
Mercedes-Benz has partnered with musician and entrepreneur Will.i.am to create an "interactive musical experience" for its cars, aiming to synchronize music with driving.
At this year's CES, the automaker announced MBUX Sound Drive, a new feature that uses sensors and software to connect music with driving. Mercedes claims to have created musical tracks to match normal functions like regenerative braking, acceleration, steering, and braking, essentially turning the entire car, as Will.i.am puts it, into his "orchestra."
Drivers can select Sound Drive through their infotainment screen, which then connects the car's hardware with the music software through "precise in-car signals that allow music to react to real-time driving characteristics."
Mercedes envisions this working in several ways. For example, it might start playing relaxing music when windshield wipers are activated - essentially pairing inclement weather with soothing driving melodies. Meanwhile, an EDM rhythm would progressively get faster as you accelerate along the highway.
This is an interesting idea, especially as sound and music have always played a central role in driving. Whether it's Carpool Karaoke or Ansel Elgort's driver character jamming to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in Baby Driver, the inclusion of familiar lyrics or a heart-pounding beat can turn any commute or road trip into a memorable experience.
Of course, in the era of electric vehicles, sound and music become more pronounced due to the absence of an internal combustion engine. But while some try to fill the void with fake exhaust through external speakers, others aim for something more pleasant. For example, the Fiat 500e uses classical music as its automatic low-speed sound, which is legally required to alert pedestrians and others who are visually impaired.
But if Bach or Will.i.am aren't the most-listened-to artists, fear not: Mercedes says it wants Sound Drive to be an "open music platform" so that any musician can create their own driving soundtrack. Using the company's MBUX operating system, artists from around the world are invited to "create tracks" for a variety of driving functions.
Sound Drive will be available for Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz vehicle owners with the second generation of the MBUX system starting in mid-2024. The feature can be downloaded via over-the-air software update. Pricing information was not immediately available.