- Futuristic voice control system for campervans from Mercedes
- Connected Home debuts on new Sprinter campervan concept
- Advanced Vito-based Marco Polo show off Connected Home 2.0
Mercedes has taken the 2018 Dusseldorf Caravan Salon as an opportunity to show off its latest development of the ‘Hey Mercedes’ principle we’ve recently been testing in the latest Sprinter, which comes as part of the firm’s MBUX infotainment system.
However, the idea has been taken further still, creating a pair of ‘connected camper’ concepts, one based on the existing Marco Polo, the other on a new Sprinter campervan prototype.
Dubbed MBAC for Mercedes-Benz Advanced Control, the system can be either app-controlled or voice activated, and can display a wide range of parameters for bodybuilders to use to integrate cargo area-based features into a van’s main systems.
For example, you’re able to control interior ambient lighting, display gas and water levels, and even automatically tint the windows (like the Magic Sky Control option on an SL-Class, this uses switchable pixels in the glass to flick between tinted and clear) on demand.
Mercedes Sprinter Connected Home campervan conversion
At the show, this was all available on a campervan conversion of the latest Sprinter that Mercedes is calling the Connected Home. It’s meant to ape your own digitally equipped house in its operation – think Amazon Alexa with a three-pointed star.
As a further development on this theme, we also saw a Concept Marco Polo that was equipped with Connected Home 2.0.
Mercedes Marco Polo Connected Home 2.0 concept
Connected Home 2.0 prompts the campervan to automatically change its configuration based on your commands, and this is very neat.
Say ‘Hey Mercedes, I want to relax’ and it’ll switch to camping mode, lowering the air suspension, switching on the fridge and cooker ready for use, extend the pop-up roof and awning, switch music to the rear and activate the ambient lighting.
A solar panel on the roof apparently delivers 400 watts of power to charge your kit on an inductive charge pad.
Reverse the whole lot by saying ‘Hey Mercedes, get ready to leave’.
Does it work?
Well, eventually, yes. Let’s just say there were some perceived language barrier issues with our testing of this system – not only was it set to German, but you also need to be fairly precise in your commanding of the vehicle. Mumble a little or say a word slightly wrong and it won’t play ball.
But then, Mercedes will be quick to remind us this is a concept, and a production-ready version is quite a long way off. And the actual MBUX infotainment system already available in the Sprinter does have very good voice recognition skills.
How will it all cost and when can I have it?
The jury’s still out at Mercedes on both points. A lot will be down to customer demand for this sort of system, we’re told, but presumably most of the cost will be in software, since it doesn’t appear we’re dealing with much new physical kit past those clever windows. With that in mind, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it become standard-fit on higher-spec models in a few years’ time.
That said, you shouldn’t expect even the more basic MBUX system to arrive in the Marco Polo any time soon, either: a spokesperson told us it’ll be ‘at least a couple of years’ until we see that in showrooms.