January 10, 2024

Mercedes-Benz And will.i.am’s Cutting-Edge Tech Turns Your Driving Into Music


Music artist will.i.am and Mercedes-Benz have launched MBUX Sound Drive – a new technology linking drivers’ music to how they drive.

Connecting motion and melody

Mercedes announced its latest state-of-the-art technology, which uses software that allows music to react to how the car is being driven, creating a relationship between the motion and the melody.

MBUX Sound Drive interprets various driving dynamics – such as recuperation, acceleration, steering, and braking – and converts them into musical expressions.

The new venture will launch this summer in Mercedes-Benz’s electric EQ models, will.i.am told TechCrunch during a press event.

“At Mercedes-Benz, we want digital innovation to bring a smile to our customers’ faces through exciting new features that make a real difference to every journey,” said Markus Schafer, Mercedes-Benz CTO.

How Was It Created?

MBUX Sound Drive is the result of will.i.am’s vision of using his skills as a record producer to develop an interactive music experience for the car.

The technology connects the car hardware with the music software through precise “in-car signals” that enable the music to react to the driving characteristics in real-time.

MBUX Sound Drive

The long-term goal is to turn the technology into an open music platform.

As a result, artists worldwide would be able to create tracks representing any music genre in a new immersive audio format using the MBUX Sound Drive studio software.

“Imagine a world where your car can become an instrument creating musical journeys… I’m excited to see how composers, producers, and songwriters will harness this to create new works and reimagine classics for motorists to drive to,” said will.i.am in the press release.

Just The Beginning

TechCrunch had a chance to test the technology at CES 2024, and despite some initial skepticism, they came away impressed.

“Sound Drive finds harmony in the numerous channels of data flying out of the ECU of a modern car, everything from throttle input to brake pressure, and links that to a sort of intelligent multichannel mixer,” they wrote.

“Instead of two turntables and a microphone, it’s two foot pedals and a steering wheel.”

However, Schafer told them that it’s just the beginning.

“It’s around 10 segments roughly that we are using at the moment,” he said, meaning that the app will tap into as many as ten different vehicle parameters that will affect the song.

However, since the system will run as an app within the MBUX infotainment system, it has the potential to access much more.

TechCrunch had access to 16 Sound Drive tracks loaded, including Doja Cat’s “Woman” and will.i.am and Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout.”

In the future, Sound Drive will be available in models from different manufacturers.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.