The car has been considered a connected device for a few years now, but virtual assistants specifically for your car are starting to enter the market. “Hey Mercedes” is rolling out on the A-Class and there is no place more appropriate for hands-free interaction than the car.
Connecting the car is so much more than allowing the infotainment system to access traffic, weather, and points of interest, it’s also monitoring engine performance and enabling the car to respond to its surrounding environment. Connectivity is being deployed into the car directly, via onboard data systems and being brought in by consumer devices.
People analytics will sit at the center of the auto industry’s disruption
As autonomous capabilities advance, consumers will shift away from assessing a vehicle’s driving performance and want to know which OEM can offer them the best in-cab experience while they travel from Point A to Point B. Which car can keep me the safest? The most productive? The most entertained? The most relaxed?
As the automotive industry undergoes massive disruption, incumbent OEMs and Tier 1s are becoming increasingly aware that they need to adapt AI immediately to address not only the external vehicle environment but to understand the in-cabin experience as well. Semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles will require an AI-based computer vision solution to ensure safe driving, seamless handoffs to a human driver, and an enriched travel experience based on the emotional, cognitive and wellness states of the occupants.
Automakers are already embedding AI and deep learning systems into cars led by speech based infotainment systems. At a power briefing during IFA’s Global Press Conference in Rome last week, Paul Gray, Research Director at IHS provided data on the evolution of the connected car and the role voice will play.
As the systems within our vehicles get smarter the tasks they’ll be able to perform are going to become increasingly more complex. Currently, basic control of the system via speech is what car makers are dealing with: I’m hot; I’m hungry; I want to go home; find an Italian restaurant close by.
Today’s infotainment system is restricted to tasks specific to the car, controlling its onboard systems like the heated seats, air and navigation. In the future the infotainment system will start to act as a virtual assistant, this step involves access to the rest of your digital life. We are starting to see some overlap into this today, but it is just first steps. Programs like Car Office by Mercedes Benz & Microsoft allow the car to access addresses for meetings from your calendar. BMW has already started playing around with gestures in car, but today it feels more like a gimmick than a useful feature.
Moving away from just the infotainment system AI & Deep learning systems are crucial to the evolution of autonomous drive features. We are seeing Level 3 autonomous drive cars hitting the street (wherever the law are in place to allow it). Advance Driver Assitant Systems (ADAS) will start with object detection and will evolve to include Freespace and limited object detection.
You can find the complete presentation over at the IFA GPC website here, but before you head over I wanted to point out a particularly interesting slide about the distribution of connected devices globally. Asia is definitely leading the way!
IFA sponsored travel and accommodation to their 2018 Global Press Conference, all thoughts and opinions are my own.