International

Bosch’s voice assistant to be co-passenger in the car

by Autocar Pro News Desk Jan 11, 2018

German-technology major Bosch’s new voice assistant may make the need for numerous buttons in the future car’s cockpit allowing the driver to control different functions in the car by communicating with the voice assistant, without the need to take their hands of the steering.

 “Bosch is putting an end to the button chaos in the cockpit. We turn the voice assistant into a passenger,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, Member of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch. The voice assistant by Bosch will be able to understand natural multilingual speech and does not require an external data connection for support.

Bosch says that Voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby are already part of the new-age smart households – controlling lighting, vacuum cleaner, ordering, taking notes among others . The German major’s newly developed voice assistant behind the wheel frees drivers from distractions so that they can concentrate on their essential task.

“When drivers get into a modern car, they can sometimes feel like an airplane pilot – buttons, screens, a confusing menu navigation with a thousand sub-menus. Bosch is putting an end to the button chaos in the cockpit. Instead, we turn the voice assistant into a passenger,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel.

Bosch says the assistant, which responds to the name ‘Casey’ the first time the driver gets in will make driving safer as well as more comfortable. According to a study from the Allianz Centre for Technology, German car drivers are frequently distracted when, for instance, they operate the navigation system, adjust the air conditioning, or answer a phone call. This kind of distraction is one of the primary causes of road accidents.

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Responds to every word – even offline

The company says the voice command functions of the past offered little help as they are frequently structured as a menu of possible options. The user must commit to the structured memory and read the required commands from the display, which is just as distracting. “Say what you want the way you want to say it – Bosch puts a voice assistant in the car who understands the driver just like another person would,” says Hoheisel. The assistant no longer responds to rigidly worded commands.

The voice recognition system understands natural sentence structures and can even handle accents and dialects, and it does so in more than 30 countries of the world. English is not simply English for the talented linguist Casey; she speaks a British, American, New Zealand, or Australian dialect. The company says that more than a decade of work has been invested in the development of the voice control and Casey can do something that goes beyond the capabilities of even well-known competitors.

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Smart Communication

The voice assistant thinks and learns natural dialects, for instance, if the driver wants to call ‘Paul’, the system automatically reviews the contacts and considers the driver’s present location, time, and situation before responding. If the driver is on the way to office in the morning, ‘Paul’ probably means the colleague at work while the same name in the evening might refer to his or her best friend. To make sure, Casey asks a question: “I have found five contacts called Paul. Do you want to call Paul Stevenson?”

This dependency on context is a first stage of artificial intelligence, another bit of sophisticated technology: the driver can, for example, also enter destination addresses in France in French – without having to make any changes in the settings manually. For instance a driver can say: “Take me to Champ de Mars, Cinq Avenue Anatole Paris,” Casey will automatically understand the destination and calculate the route to Eiffel Tower. Bosch claims the assistant does not require any sort of external data connection. The infotainment system in the car takes over the calculation without sending any data to the cloud.

Responds to any name

Bosch says the conversation in the car becomes even more personal when the driver christens the assistant with the name of his or her choice; the days are past when the voice command system responded only to the name given by the manufacturer. Regardless of whether it is called ‘Casey’, ‘Michael’, or ‘Linda’, the Bosch voice recognition system understands and speaks 30 different languages with a total of 44 female and 9 male voices. The driver activates the assistant by calling out “Hey, Casey” or can use the new name given to the assistant. The driver starts every new dialog simply by speaking directly to the assistant; no longer does the driver needs to wait for a ‘peep’ before starting to talk.

 

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