2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK

Built-in navigation systems are rife with issues. Upgrades are a PITA and the software is generally a generation or two behind what's current on offer from most portable – and considerably less expensive – navigation units. Harman and Mercedes-Benz seem to have come up with a solution, and it's coming to market this year.

The Harman Map Pilot is a portable nav unit that's stored in the glove compartment and connects with the in-dash display and stereo. Route guidance works just like any other OEM system, but when the time comes to update the maps or upgrade the unit completely, it's a simple plug-and-play affair. Voice guidance, POI search and the rest of the standard features are present and accounted for, and would-be buyers of the 2012 SLK and new C-Class will get the system standard when they go on sale later this year. Full details in the press release below.
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HARMAN Launches Innovative Docking Navigation System with Mercedes-Benz

HARMAN, the leading global audio and infotainment group (NYSE: HAR), today unveiled an innovative navigation solution for Mercedes-Benz that blends the flexibility of portable navigation devices with the convenience of complete driver cockpit integration. The new Becker® MAP PILOT continues a relationship between the Company's Becker brand and Daimler AG that dates back more than 60 years.

The new Becker® MAP PILOT navigation system, premiering in the new Mercedes-Benz SLK and in the new generation of C-Class, gives drivers a feature-rich and upgradeable navigation solution without compromising the convenience of a highly integrated in-dash OEM solution. Data for the system is contained in a compact, tethered navigation "brain," which can be easily removed from its docking cradle to update map data or upload the latest applications and feature sets. The unit seamlessly connects to the vehicle's onboard radio and fixed-screen electronics via a tailor-made cradle conveniently and discreetly housed in the car's glove compartment.

"The Becker® MAP PILOT underscores the leading-edge innovation that has resulted from our long association with Daimler AG," said Michael Mauser, Co-President of HARMAN Automotive. "The system blends the flexibility of the latest generation of portable navigation devices with the convenience of in-dash display and accessible controls to produce a system that is both easy to use and easily upgraded in the field."

The Becker® MAP PILOT is operated by means of conveniently-placed controls positioned on the car's multifunctional steering wheel, the turn/push control, and integrated voice commands. This approach provides maximum functionality while preventing driver distraction. The navigation route is shown on the large-format central display and instrument cluster, and voice instructions are reproduced in the best possible sound quality from the car's onboard speakers – a distinct advantage over conventional portable navigation systems.

The unique connectivity of the Becker® MAP PILOT ensures perfect integration and networking with the car's onboard electronics. The navigation unit can be removed from the vehicle in a single movement and can be updated online anytime using the Becker® MAP PILOT Webshop site (www.beckermappilot.com) which enables maps and software to be upgraded and personalized information such as points of interest (POIs) to be downloaded simply and conveniently. HARMAN intends to continuously expand the range of new applications available in the Webshop, adapting to the increasing expectations and personal needs of the user.

For maximum security, the Becker® MAP PILOT is not visible from outside the car and feels like a built-in navigation system when in use. A lock on the integrated cradle prevents the device from being removed without permission, and its location inside the glove compartment ensures the unit remains securely anchored. The direct link to the Mercedes-Benz SLK or C-Class base radio means that the latest traffic warnings and other updates can be incorporated automatically in the route planning system by means of the Traffic Message Channel (TMC), and the guidance system automatically adapts itself to the current traffic situation.

This pioneering system will also be available in other Mercedes-Benz models in the future.

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