There’s a new demographic of car buyer that’s gaining prominence. These individuals are becoming increasingly familiar with never-before-seen technology, and are diverse connoisseurs with premium tastes but mindful wallets. This leaves automakers, like Daimler, with the unique problem of innovating entry-level cars with luxurious and future-looking features while still maintaining value. On top of that, these consumers are experiencing the benefits of semi-autonomous driving now and will soon expect even more advancement out of their vehicles. One way to meet this challenge is through scalable, future-proof technology that offers features to enhance the user experience and prepare drivers for their transition into passengers.

As a long-standing strategic development partner and tier one supplier for Daimler, HARMAN is helping the automaker accomplish this by redefining the modern compact car class with luxury driving experiences – chiefly the first-ever use of augmented reality navigation. Debuting in the next generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class as a part of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), the system combines Daimler and HARMAN technology to provide turn-by-turn directions with AR visuals to transport the navigation user interface into the digital age. 

“With MBUX, we have created a completely new user experience for our customers. Intuitive and intelligent. This type of digital innovation will become even more important in the future. Therefore, we need a strong partner to do this,” said Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Group Development and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, as he handed over the special award to HARMAN.

The new system also helps OEMs prepare for Level 3, 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles. It’s an important first step in the journey toward increased safety and driver-assistance features and helps by both providing a unique visualization for navigation, and by communicating vehicle autonomy to occupants. This will also help former self-drivers ease into their transition as passengers when getting behind the wheel of an autonomous car.

In a self-driving situation, the feature would eliminate the abstract map all together to show occupants what the car is about to do next: for example, make a turn, accelerate, brake, switch lanes, or merge. This intuitive and holistic navigation experience would be shown in real-life context,  giving passengers a feeling of control despite the vehicle’s autonomous capabilities. By communicating these actions to occupants through intuitive visualizations, an entire generation of drivers can more comfortably transform into passengers through a better understanding of surrounding traffic and environmental conditions. These features aren’t exclusive to fully-autonomous technology either – the augmented reality technology can also help drivers experience contextual mapping and additional functionality enabled through advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring and automated cruise control. 

“Bringing this industry-leading technology to market first is a testament to our progressive thinking and commitment to increased safety and driver comfort,” said Mike Peters, President, Connected Car division at HARMAN. “HARMAN and Samsung’s vision for future mobility is built on the foundation of integration that enables OEMs to enhance their brand loyalty while reducing time-to-market.”

Spearheaded by Daimler, hundreds of HARMAN employees worldwide contributed to this project, which has been years in the making and one of the more challenging projects for everyone involved. However, the countless hours and epic manpower needed to bring MBUX to market was worth it so a whole new demographic of motorist can experience a new era of connectivity and in-vehicle technology.