The car of the future will know where you want to go as soon as you start it up – at least, if Mercedes-Benz has anything to do with it.
Stuff got an early look at its Predictive User Experience concept at CES 2014, and it certainly looks impressive – if Mercedes can pull it off.
The car uses an array of sensors to work out who's driving it – everything from seats that measure your weight to sensors that track how heavy you are on the accelerator. It'll even monitor which smartphones are in the car to build up a picture of who's driving and their passengers.
People to see, places to go
Armed with that information, the car's Prediction Engine will monitor your driving habits and work out where you want to go, based on who's in the car, the time of day and the weather.
So if a parent and two children are in the vehicle on a weekday morning, it's a fairly safe bet that they're on the school run – and that the parent will be going to work after they drop the kids off. If it's a rainy weekend evening and there are two adults in the car, they're likely to be going to the cinema or one of their favourite after-work haunts.
Mercedes reckons that the Prediction Engine will take around two to three weeks to work out where you habitually drive to – and will draw on information from satellites and other connected cars to help you avoid traffic and find the fastest route.
A learning computer
"It's a learning algorithm that's developed in-house, and it's constantly running on our NTG5 systems," a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson tells Stuff. "It's constantly reading from all the sensor data that it gets from the car; there are 150 different sensors. It also pulls in satellite data and car-to-car data for traffic and infrastructure."
It's no mere pie-in-the-sky concept, either. "This is actually hardware and software ready," Merc's spokesperson explains. "It'll be in a car two years from now."
Privacy is obviously a concern – and initially, the Prediction Engine won't cull data from your smartphone. Mercedes is considering allowing you to store your user data on your phone though, so that if you swap over to another Mercedes-Benz, you can bring your preferred settings with you.
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It'll also monitor the driving habits of the person behind the wheel to confirm that it is actually you – if you've lent your key to a friend, or if someone's stolen your keys, phone and wallet, the car will be able to tell that you're not behind the wheel, and withhold personal information.
The idea, the spokesperson tells us, is for you not to have to do anything. "It learns everything there is to know about you; The more you feed it, the smarter it gets."
For some, that'll sound eerily reminiscent of the frankly spooky Mother life-tracking gadget. For those who want to step into Mercedes' vision of the future, the Predictive User Experience looks set to streamline your life.