The number of computer controlled features added to cars continues to climb each year, and things are only set to accelerate as technologies related to autonomous driving and the Internet of things advance.
Automakers are finding that they need a powerful operating system capable of controlling all of a car's features, and some of them are choosing to develop their own system rather than an off-the-shelf system like Google's Android.
The latest to announce its own system is Mercedes-Benz, which on Friday said it is developing the new MB.OS (Mercedes-Benz Operating System) for launch in 2024. The Volkswagen Group via its in-house software development company Cariad is also working on its own OS, as well as its own computer chips.
Mercedes plans to hire 3,000 software engineers to develop the OS, with a third of these to work at a new software hub at the automaker's main development site in Sindelfingen, Germany. Other software hubs will be located in cities around the globe including Berlin, Tel Aviv, Seattle, Sunnyvale, Beijing, Tokyo and Bangalore.
Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS)
Sajjad Khan, chief technology officer at Mercedes, said software forms the “central nervous system” of the car and in the longer term, Mercedes will rely on in-house development for more than 60% of the software it uses.
This will extend beyond car-specific systems to cloud systems and the Internet of things. Furthemore, the OS will allow updates and upgrades over the entire life cycle of the vehicle as is possible with smartphones and other electronic devices.
The new OS will also provide Mercedes with new opportunities to grow revenues, for instance by offering subscriptions to digital features that can be switched on or off by the owner after purchasing the vehicle. Mercedes said it plans to generate as much as 1 billion euros (approximately $1.2 billion ) in EBIT profits from digital services as soon as 2025.
Mercedes has already found success using in-house developed software with its impressive MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, which is as simple to use as an Apple or Android-powered smartphone.