Mercedes-Benz and Google formed a long-term partnership to give the German automaker control over its IP and marketplace while offering drivers navigation, maps, and YouTube.
It’s a strange deal that aims to give consumers Google services without giving up control over the car’s operating system.
Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius told a press briefing Wednesday at its Sunnyvale, California research and development center that the licensing agreement was a “win-win” for both parties. “We’re full stack architects.”
Calling it a licensing agreement may understate the relationship. MB.OS-equipped Mercedes-Benz vehicles will include Google Maps, Cloud, and YouTube. Mercedes will use Google’s geospatial services, including detailed place data, real-time and predictive traffic information, and automatic rerouting. Google Maps data will enable Mercedes-Benz assisted driving features like automatic speed adjustments before intersections, roundabouts, and curves.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said the partnership will continue.
“In addition to enabling Mercedes-Benz to design a customized navigation interface, we’ll provide our AI and data capabilities to accelerate their sustainability efforts, advance autonomous driving, and enhance customer experience,” Pichai said.
Mercedes-Benz has been developing MB.OS for years. The next generation of Mercedes vehicles, internally known as MMA, will use that operating system.
Mercedes said it built its Linux-based system to support third-party apps and services like Google’s. Mercedes plans to build its own navigation using Google Maps Platform and new in-car geospatial data.
The partnership’s first benefits won’t take years to reach customers. Mercedes announced Wednesday that it will begin offering Google Place Details to customers today. Over-the-air software updates will add the new feature.
The new Mercedes E Class will feature MB.OS’s precursor later this year. Customers can use apps like Tiktok and Zoom from the car’s infotainment system.
High-stakes endgame. Mercedes wants MB.OS to be so compelling that drivers no longer use middleware like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which mirror smartphones to the car’s infotainment system.
“That’s MB’s ultimate goal.
OS will create a customer experience so you don’t need to plug in your phone,” CTO Markus Schäfer said Wednesday at the event.