Tata Motors’ cars get Indian language voice assistant

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 24 May 2021


Kolkata-based vernacular voice interface platform start-up Mihup Communication has partnered Harman International to provide voice-controlled conversation agents in Tata Motors cars. The partnership aims to enhance user experience in Tata Motors cars and bridge the gap between native-speaking users and providing access to innovation.

Mihup says while Tata Motors vehicles had an in-vehicle voice assistant, it had a limited dictionary and absence of vernacular language or Indian dialect support. The OEM wanted an embedded solution to make the experience hands-free for drivers, available to the masses, and disassociate the identity of voice assistance with a luxury offering.

The start-up says its solution, christened ‘AVA Auto’, addresses all the opportunities for improvement specific to the earlier voice assistant from the carmaker. It offers online, offline, and hybrid connectivity options among other features. The solution supports Hinglish (Hindi + English) language. The system responds back based on user voice command without the need for a manual switch. The company aims to introduce AVA support for Tamilish and Benglish soon, with a plan to cover all major Indian languages by 2022.

According to the firm, voice adoption across vehicular platforms is continuously on the rise and it is estimated that 8 billion voice assistants will be in use by 2023. About 95 percent customers are expected to use in-vehicle voice assistants by 2022. There is a 60 percent higher monthly usage of in-vehicle voice assistants as compared to smart speakers, but the existing solutions do not cater to the need for ease of usage by the end customers.

Tapan Barman, co-founder and CEO, Mihup, said, “I am grateful to the Tata team for seeing the potential and believing in what was just an idea at that point and to Harman International for bringing it into fruition. This will help Tata become a beacon for technological advancement and Mihup to grow its footprint in the Voice AI space.”

After assessing multiple use cases and languages, the product is now going live on Tata cars. The offline (Voice AI on the edge) model has been deployed on variants of the Tata Altroz premium hatchback and Tata Nexon compact SUV. AVA allows the driver to get a completely hands-free voice-based control for important car functions and control – AC, volume, AM/FM and Music System among others. It provides natural language support for making phone calls and playing music from USB, supporting navigation commands and also for vehicle information.

Prathab Deivanayagham, MD and country head – India, Harman said: “Mihup has developed a voice recognition engine, which can understand natural speech in multiple native Indian languages. This will enhance user experience for a linguistically diverse market like India so that consumers preferring native languages can connect with the car and use features like media, phone, navigation and other vehicle interfaces in a language of their own choice.”