Mercedes-Benz announced multiple newsworthy innovations during its Operating System Strategy Update in Sunnyvale, California earlier today. The German automaker announced it is building its own proprietary operating system called MB.OS which will offer features like navigation and maps from Google. Additionally, Mercedes announced it is expanding upon a previous partnership with lidar specialist Luminar in a new multi-billion dollar deal to integrate the tech by mid-decade.

First things first. Earlier today, Mercedes-Benz announced plans to develop its own operating system that will debut on its new Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) platform. By developing MB.OS in-house (a’hem, with partners), the German automaker says it can retain full control over the relationship with its customers while protecting their privacy.

The design itself is a purpose-built chip-to-cloud architecture that operates major EV domains holistically from infotainment, to charging, and even autonomous driving (more on that in a bit).

The automaker also said MB.OS decouples hardware from software, expediting updates and future innovations. It was designed to also connect all the major aspects of the company’s value chain, including development, production, omni-channel commerce, and service. Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius spoke:

At Mercedes-Benz, we are dedicated to building the world’s most desirable cars. Accordingly, we made the decision to be the architects of our own operating system – a unique chip-to-cloud architecture that leverages its full access to our vehicles’ hardware and software components. By combining this in-house expertise with a selection of world-class partners, we will create an outstanding customer experience, from driving assistance, navigation and entertainment, all the way to integrated charging. MB.OS will feature full upgradeability and constant improvements.

The new operating system was created to become standardized across Mercedes’ entire portfolio of vehicles, EVs included of course, by mid-decade when the MMA platform arrives. Another partner in the development of new Mercedes operating system in addition to Google, is NVIDIA.

The software and AI specialist is providing its Orin system-on-chip to enhance benchmark SAE Level 2 and Level 3 automated driving systems, which can further be supported by lidar technology implemented on Mercedes vehicles developed by Luminar Technologies ($LAZR).

Mercedes locks in “multi-billion dollar deal” for lidar tech

According to Luminar Technologies Inc., Mercedes-Benz has significantly increased its investment in a previous partnership between to two companies to incorporate the former’s Iris lidar technology into its next generation of vehicles, again by mid-decade.

The companies have been in close collaboration for over a year following their initial partnership, but Luminar’s Iris lidar only entered series production in October 2022. We have followed its progress as it is currently available as an add-on for Polestar 3 SUV pre-orders, and is an integral component in Volvo’s upcoming EX90, which the automaker is hailing as the “safest vehicle it’s ever built.”

In terms of its work with Mercedes, Luminar says its lidar program has successfully completed its initial phase and associated milestones. Mercedes intends to use Luminar’s next generation of Iris lidar technology to help safely navigate the automated driving systems MB.OS will deliver. This includes higher speeds on freeways and enhanced driver assistance in urban areas.

Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of  Management of Mercedes Benz Group AG and Chief Technology Officer, Development & Procurement, spoke to the expanded partnership with Luminar to implement its lidar technology:

In a first step we have introduced a Level 3 system in our top line models. Next, we want to implement advanced automated driving features in a broader scale within our portfolio. I am convinced that Luminar is a great partner to help realize our vision and roadmap for automated and accident-free driving.

Luminar states it will unveil the next-generation version of its Iris lidar system during its Q4 and full-year report next Tuesday.