German auto manufacturer Mercedes-Benz has taken the wraps off an update to its in-car virtual assistant that includes an NFT gallery and an AI voice assistant with "emotional profiles."

The firm presented its updated MBUX Virtual Assistant at the 2024 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The virtual assistant, which is powered by generative AI, runs on the next-generation Mercedez-Benz Operating System (MB.OS) developed in-house by the automaker.

Billed as the "most human-like interface with a Mercedes-Benz yet," the updated MBUX Virtual Assistant leverages a large language model (LLM) to interact with the driver using one of four "emotional profiles," Markus Schäfer, chief technology officer at Mercedes-Benz, said in an interview with PCMag. The virtual assistant can switch between natural, predictive, personal and empathetic modes, he explained.

"Through advances in artificial intelligence, tomorrow’s Mercedes-Benz will know its driver like never before," Schäfer said. "It will enhance and complement our customers’ lives—in their cars and in other areas too."


The MBUX Assistant will learn the driver's preferences, such as automatically turning on their preferred radio station during their morning commute, or activating seat massagers and dimmed lights during night driving.

Mercedes-Benz announced in June 2023 that it would incorporate OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot to its Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) voice assistant. However, Schäfer noted that the final product won't "necessarily" be restricted to using ChatGPT, noting that Mercedes-Benz could swap it out for other chatbots "if we see options that are better for the customer." That could include using alternative LLMs to offer better localization in different regions, for example.

Drivers will be able to opt out of the program, and the virtual assistant will only learn from individual cars, with data not shared across drivers, Schäfer added.

The updated MBUX Virtual Assistant will launch in early 2025.


In-car NFT gallery

Mercedes-Benz is also overhauling its navigation and in-car entertainment (ICE) systems. The latter will incorporate an in-car music experience, MBUX Sound Drive, developed by recording artist that enables music to "react to the way the acr is being driven."

Mercedes-Benz MBUX Collectibles app
Mercedes-Benz MBUX Collectibles app. Image: Mercedes-Benz

A new MBUX Collectibles in-car app enables drivers to showcase their non-fungible token (NFT) collection on the vehicle's dashboard, including the brand's own NXT NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. The firm made headlines last year when its NXT Icons NFT collection drop caused its website to crash.

Mercedes-Benz is also using blockchain technology for less frivolous applications; back in 2020 it announced that it was piloting a project to track the amount of CO2 emissions in its cobalt supply chain using blockchain, in collaboration with traceability start-up Circulor.

Generally Intelligent Newsletter

A weekly AI journey narrated by Gen, a generative AI model.