Jun 25, 2021, Innovations

Voice AI puts the pedal to the metal in automotive

Aneta Skoczewska Business Consultant

Remember the Jetsons family from the famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon? Did you know that this early 1960s sitcom predicted most of the modern hi-tech trends? Video calls, tablets, robotic vacuum cleaners, smartwatches, drones, flat screen TVs and holograms should definitely ring a bell. However, as surprising as it may sound, one crucial element is missing. You don’t know yet? Just look outside the window. Do you see any flying cars? Well, me neither. Nonetheless, the automotive industry made its milestone as well. Apart from electric and autonomous cars, we have some gripping examples of voice AI solutions making our vehicles so much cooler. Want more details? Hop in! The ride’s on us. 

Alexa, start my car

If you’re an owner of a Nissan built after 2016, you can probably use a Connected Vehicle Skill API with integrated name-free Alexa controls. What it means is that in order to unlock or start a car, you can simply ask Alexa to do it for you, not using the whole skill name. “Alexa, ask NissanConnect Services to start my car” wouldn’t sound as neat as a quick “Alexa, start my car” command.

Truck talk

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes delivery service had a go at a custom-made voice assistant named Neo created to help drivers make their usual rounds. The pilot project allowed asking detailed questions about scheduled deliveries and receiving voice answers along with visual suggestions displayed on a vehicle’s screen. This way, drivers can access data such as a recipient’s name and address, information about the package or additional notes about the delivery details, saving time and adjusting their schedule on the go.

Ford hooking up with Google

By the year 2023, millions of Ford Motor Company vehicles will be ready to use the Android operating system along with Google Assistant, replacing the current SYNC OS after its long 15 years of service. The path is not fully clear yet, but Ford management states that the company plans on introducing a platform able to support multiple voice assistants. This way, customers will be granted with a wider range of possibilities, choosing the bot which suits their current needs. 

Huracán Evo comes rain or shine

Thanks to upgrades in the Alexa Auto SDK 3.0, Lamborghini was able to present the first car that relies on a voice assistant to control the environmental settings. Driving a Huracán Evo, you can adjust the car’s air conditioning, lights, windows or seat warmers using a quick command. And the request doesn’t even have to be precise. Alexa understands your intentions even when you say it’s too hot or too cold. 

Hey Google, hey Fiat

Partnering with Google, Fiat has released a new version of its 500 car model integrated with the famous voice solution. Using Google Assistant on a smartphone or Google Nest smart speakers, a driver can check on the gas level, switch the lights on and off, and use other functional commands to make the ride more enjoyable and convenient. What’s interesting, Fiat turned out to be Google’s real fanboy, embedding the Google Assistant logo above the turn signals and using the company’s colored dot design on the seats and door panels. 

BMW getting smarter with the new iDrive OS

The change is planned for the end of 2021, but BMW doesn’t want us to wait in suspense and revealed some thrilling details about its refreshed iDrive. First of all, it’ll be able to understand the commands clearer, faster and in context. Data is retrieved from cloud-based servers and car sensors. What’s more, BMWs will be able to communicate with one another, exchanging information about hazard warnings or best parking spots at a chosen destination. 

Hey Mercedes, turn on the vacuum cleaner in my flat

The company decided to extend its cooperation with Cerence, the automotive voice tech developer, and introduced the second generation of its virtual assistant. The existing MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) can run heat and air controls, search for local businesses, and stream music. The new, more personalized version will be able to identify different drivers by advanced voice biometrics and adjust the car functions to their preferences. It’ll include setting a specific seat position, temperature, or media favorites just by hearing a driver’s voice saying “Hey Mercedes”. And that’s not all. MBUX can also be used to control smart home devices while driving. How cool is that?

OK Honda

Along with the new ‘Honda e’ electric cars, the company introduced a built-in personal assistant to operate the car’s environmental and entertainment controls. The system gathers data from previous questions and commands, checking the geographical context and related details to be a valuable support during a ride. And the requests don’t have to be simple at all. A driver can for example ask about petrol stations open past midnight with tire inflating facilities and food. The assistant will answer with ease and provide directions if necessary.

Porsche Taycan calling the tune

This fall, you’ll be able to purchase a new Porsche Taycan with a three-year Apple Music subscription. It’ll be the company’s first electric vehicle controllable with a voice assistant and a touchscreen, being a real treat for people who love listening to music while driving (so, all of us?). Using simple voice commands, it’ll be possible to search for a favorite song or album, play a personal playlist or set a chosen radio station. You prefer listening to Spotify or Pandora? It’ll be only a matter of connecting to your smartphone and running a specified streaming service. 

Speak to the helmet

Electric motorcycles with loads of buttons and switches can easily distract a driver, creating a risk of potential road accidents. Therefore, adjusting them by voice makes a great change in bikers’ safety. They will be able to activate the traction control or navigation systems, speaking directly to a device secured into their helmet. This way, they also have access to other voicebots like Siri or Google Assistant, depending on the model of a smartphone they own. 

Putting the brakes on

We could just go on and on about different voice technologies in automotive – it’s not easy to exhaust the topic. The space for new solutions is growing each day with fresh vehicle-specific use cases and hundreds millions of people using voice assistants in their cars. Maybe in the future, technology will open the doors to recognizing and understanding drivers’ emotions and giving them an even more personalized experience? We can’t wait to see how it evolves! 

In the meanwhile, if you have any questions regarding voice AI related solutions or want to apply such a technology in your business, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’re ready to take on a new challenge!