With the new integration, Hey Mercedes will still be able to complete its regular set of commands, which include turning up the volume, adjusting the temperature, providing you with real-time weather reports, adding a stop to your drive, and making a phone call.
On top of its normal set of functions, the system will benefit from significant conversation upgrades that allow it to:
- Engage in natural, humanlike conversation
- Maintain a back-and-forth dialogue with the driver (or passengers)
- Remember conversations so you can pick up where you left off without having to provide additional context
- Respond to a wide set of questions and offer suggestions about your surrounding area and destination
- Provide you with recommendations unrelated to your drive, like last-minute dinner recipes or birthday gift ideas
- Send texts via voice-to-text commands
- Answer complex questions about niche or technical topics
- Purchase concert/movie tickets and make restaurant reservations for you
While Mercedes aims to generate ease and convenience for drivers, some studies show that voice-activated car assistants aren’t any safer than using a phone while driving. Research from Texas A&M University shows that driver response times are significantly delayed when people text and drive, even if they’re using a voice-to-text assistant; yet, driver performance while texting was about the same with and without voice-assistant features.1 In the same vein, AAA research found that all hands-free systems “increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels.”2
The good news for Mercedes is that it will be able to collect safety data through the three-month beta program, providing it with concrete results about how safe or unsafe the program was for its drivers.