Adding POIs to Mercedes-Benz COMAND / NAVI


If you have a Mercedes-Benz car with inbuilt Satnav and a data card slot (e.g. SD) then this post may be of interest to you, including Howto, Details, POI Services, POI Icons, Linux, Resources.  This may all be applicable to all such cars, but tested working on a 2017 W222.  I used Linux (Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS) although any other modern OS will do, such as Windows or OSX.

Howto

  1. get an SD card that your car can read (1GB is more than enough)
  2. on a computer add the folder PersonalPOI to the SD card
  3. obtain GPX files and make sure they have the GPX extension and comply with Mercedes GPX format (need GPX files? see 3rd Party POI Services below)
  4. then, copy over the GPX files (see the discussion here on formatting) to this PersonalPOI folder
  5. in your car, put your SD card in the SD card slot
  6. open the car's SatNav (e.g NAVI) and wait for the POIs to load (5-10 secs, for me)
  7. the POIs can not be imported to the COMAND hard drive, so the SD card must always be present in the SD card slot when you want to use the POIs.  I just leave it in.
A more detailed howto is here (note any compliant GPX files will work, whatever the source). Another excellent Howto is here from the MB POI Loader site.

Details


It is well known amongst many MB owners that to install your own custom POIs to the car then this can be achieved by putting them in a certain format on an SD card and inserting that SD card into the SD card slot in the car.  It is important to note, this will work only if all the following are met:
  • the SD card is readable by COMAND (check this. e.g. see if COMAND can see and play mp3 files on the card).
  • the folder PersonalPOI is a parent folder on the card (ie it is not within another folder)
  • all POIs file must be in this folder and have the extension gpx, e.g.
   SD Card:
    |-- PersonalPOI
         |-- Speed_Cameras-UK.gpx
         |-- Restaurants-UK.gpx
         |-- Hotels-UK.gpx
  • each gpx file is a text file, the contents of which must comply with Mercedes GPX specification (this depends on the model of the SatNav in the car and/or version of COMAND)
  • the SD card must stay in the slot and readable for the POIs to be active. Remove the SD card and the POIs will not be visible.
Interesting facts
  • Up to 30,000 POIs can be dynamically imported, but any more and all the POIs on the SD card will be ignored. Apparently all the of EU POIs do exceed this number, so careful to not load too many POIs onto your SD card.
  • There are 17 known POI icons in the COMAND system that can be used (these are the numbers 1 to 17 in the per-POI XML attribute IconId in the gpx file).
  • It is not generally known how to add custom icons.  For example the COMAND POI icons available to custom POIs do not include a WiFi symbol for example.
  • There is very little (ok, none I could find and I'm pretty good at searching!) technical information from Mercedes-Benz on custom POI formats and Icons.  What's been done by folk so far, seems to have been reverse-engineering and trial-and-error testing of possibilities to find the boundaries.
3rd Party POI Services

There are a number of services which help users obtain POIs

These are three popular POI providers, mostly depending on their community of users to add/edit/delete POIs to keep them current. They all have basic instructions on installation, so no point repeating them here.
POI Icons

For Mercedes NAVI these are built-in and even custom POI files such as speed-cameras, restaurants, etc must use them.  They are numbered 1 to 19.  Most are red in colour with a few exceptions.


1 - crosshairs target + "@"

2 - fishing
3 - beach sunbed
4 - tent
5 - camp fire
6 - camera on tripod (e.g. mobile camera)
7 - heart
8 - log cabin
9 - picnic blanket
10 - skis
11 - knife, fork, plate, heart (e.g favourite restaurant) 
12 - map pin
13 - car
14 - bed
15 - shopping bag
16 - camera (e.g. fixed camera)
17 - running man (e.g. general sports)
18 - green petrol pump
19 - crosshairs target
20+ all default to the same icon as 19

In my opinion....

Useful Icons
6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Missing Icons
- WiFi
- any icon proposed/curated by the respective POI file creators (see missing feature below)

Missing Features
- Capability to "favourite" any POI, by overlaying a small heart (e.g. top-right corner)
- Capability to add custom POI icons and use them
- Capability to import POIs (and delete them) just as can be done with audio files, such as mp3s.

Should we be bugging Mercedes to fix this? ;)

Linux can be useful

Example 1. 
Changing the POI icons to any of the types built-in to COMAND/NAVI. For example all the POI icons by default for the WiFi hotspot GPX files from https://poi.gps-data-team.com have the icon for mobile cameras! (number 6) as this photo shows, the one just to the left of the red arrowhead.


A oneliner to change the IconID to 16.
kiat@xmas:~$ sed -i 's/\(.*IconId="\)[[:digit:]]\{1,\}\(">.*\)/\116\2/p' Speed_Camera-BE.gpx 

Did it work?
kiat@xmas:~$ sed -n 's/.*IconId="\(.*\)">.*/\1/p' Speed_Camera-BE.gpx | uniq
16

Yes :)


Example 2.
Oneliner to see how many POIs are in a GPX file.
kiat@xmas:~$ sed -n '/.*IconId=.*/p' Speed_Camera-BE.gpx | wc -l
1018


Example 3. 
Installing the Windows software MB POI Loader on Linux by using Wine (you need this, e.g. on Ubuntu/Debian: apt-get install wine winbind). Once installed you can use the program just as the same as using Windows. My install didn't create a working desktop icon, so I made my own. You don't have to, but can use my one and create a file like it (replace my home directory with yours and make sure all paths are correct) in ~/Desktop to get a nice app launch icon. See screenshots - where I also show all the available icons in the app.  Note: one is wrong (9 is a picnic blanket, not a tall building) and 18 is missing.


kiat@xmas:~$ cat Desktop/MB\ POI\ Loader.desktop 

[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Type=Application
Name=MB POI Loader
Comment=
Exec=/usr/bin/wine MBPOILoader.exe
Icon=/home/kiat/Downloads/mb-poi-loader/MB_POI_Loader.png
Path=/home/kiat/.wine/drive_c/Program Files (x86)/SpeerMan Software/MB POI Loader
Terminal=false
StartupNotify=true
kiat@xmas:~$