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SoundHound, Honda, to build voice artificial intelligence

SoundHound has announced a partnership with Honda to accelerate the development of a voice-enabled AI assistant.

SoundHound’s Houndify voice and conversational AI platform has distinctive advantages including its proprietary Speech-to-Meaning and Deep Meaning Understanding technologies, which deliver unprecedented speed, accuracy, and intelligence in voice recognition and understanding. To support natural interactions, Houndify understands complicated queries and context, such as the user’s location, previous queries, and compound criteria including exclusion. In addition, SoundHound Inc.’s Collective AI architecture allows partners to have complete control of the user experience and their own innovation, while benefiting from Houndify’s growing developer ecosystem.

“Our Houndify Collective AI is a natural fit for automotive brands that aim to provide voice AI to drivers while differentiating, innovating and retaining ownership of their brands,” said Keyvan Mohajer, co-founder and CEO of SoundHound Inc. “We are thrilled to partner with Honda to further enhance the driving experience with the fastest and most accurate voice and AI technology on the market.”

SoundHound Inc. has been collaborating with Honda through Honda Xcelerator, the open innovation program that facilitates collaboration with startups, led by Honda Innovations. The program helped nurture and solidify the partnership between the two companies, leading to Houndify being chosen as the solution based on its technological differentiators and aligned AI strategies.

In May, SoundHound Inc. announced an alliance with a group of strategic investors, with a combined reach of over 2 billion users globally. The alliance includes Tencent, Daimler, Hyundai, Midea Group, and Orange. These companies join SoundHound Inc.’s existing list of strategic investors including Samsung, NVIDIA, KT Corporation, HTC, NAVER, LINE, Nomura, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa, and Recruit. More than 60,000 partners have registered on the Houndify platform with many products integrating Houndify, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel, Vauxhall, Nvidia (cars), Samsung (IoT platforms), Onkyo (speakers), Motorola (phones) and more.

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Jaguar Land Rover and BMW team up for electric tech

The collaboration seeks to advance consumer adoption of electric vehicle technology.

Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Group are joining forces to develop next generation Electric Drive Units (EDUs) in a move that will support the advancement of electrification technologies, a central part of the automotive industry’s transition to an ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared) future.

The strategic collaboration will build on the considerable knowledge and expertise in electrification at both companies. Jaguar Land Rover has demonstrated its leading technical capability in bringing the world’s first premium battery electric SUV to market – the 2019 World Car of the Year, the Jaguar I-PACE, as well as plug-in hybrid models; and BMW Group bringing vast experience of developing and producing several generations of electric drive units in-house since it launched the BMW i3 in 2013. 

Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director said: “The transition to ACES represents the greatest technological shift in the automotive industry in a generation. The pace of change and consumer interest in electrified vehicles is gathering real momentum and it’s essential we work across industry to advance the technologies required to deliver this exciting future. 

“We’ve proven we can build world beating electric cars but now we need to scale the technology to support the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover products. It was clear from discussions with BMW Group that both companies’ requirements for next generation EDUs to support this transition have significant overlap making for a mutually beneficial collaboration.”

The agreement will enable both companies to take advantage of efficiencies arising from shared research and development and production planning as well as economies of scale from joint procurement across the supply chain.

A team of Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Group experts will engineer the EDUs with both partners developing the systems to deliver the specific characteristics required for their respective range of products. 

The EDUs will be manufactured by each partner in their own production facilities. For Jaguar Land Rover this will be at its Wolverhampton-based Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC), which was confirmed as the home for the company’s global EDU production in January of this year. The plant, which employs 1600 people, will be the centre of propulsion system manufacturing offering full flexibility between clean Ingenium petrol and diesel engines and electric units. The EMC will be complemented by the recently announced Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, near Birmingham, in supplying electrified powertrain systems to Jaguar Land Rover’s global vehicle plants.

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Sensory steering wheel lets drivers feel the heat

Jaguar Land Rover researches rapid heating and cooling of the steering wheel for use with turn-by-turn navigation.

A steering wheel developed by Jaguar Land Rover could help keep drivers’ eyes on the road – by using heat to tell drivers when to turn left or right.

The research, in partnership with Glasgow University, has created a ‘sensory steering wheel’, parts of which can be quickly heated and cooled to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane or to warn of an approaching junction. This could be particularly useful when visibility is reduced through poor weather or the layout of the road.

The technology has also been applied to the gear-shift paddles to indicate when hand over from the driver to autonomous control in future self-driving vehicles is complete. 

Driver distraction is a major contributor to road accidents around the world and accounts for 10 per cent of all fatal crashes in the USA alone*. Jaguar Land Rover’s research suggests thermal cues could be a way to keep drivers fully focused on the road.

The cues work on both sides of the steering wheel, indicating the direction to turn by rapidly warming or cooling one side by a difference of up to 6°C. For comfort a driver could adjust the range of temperature change.

Studies have shown** temperature-based instructions could also be used for non-urgent notifications, where vibrations could be deemed unnecessarily attention grabbing, for example as a warning when fuel is running low, or for upcoming events, such as points of interest. Thermal cues can also be used where audio feedback would be deemed too disruptive to cabin conversations or media playback.

Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager, said:“Safety is a number one priority for Jaguar Land Rover and we are committed to continuously improving our vehicles with the latest technological developments as well as preparing the business for a self-driving future. 

“The ‘sensory steering wheel’ is all part of this vision, with thermal cues able to reduce the amount of time drivers have to take their eyes off the road. Research has shown people readily understand the heating and cooling dynamics to denote directions and the subtlety of temperature change can be perfect for certain feedback that doesn’t require a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue.”

The Jaguar Land Rover-funded research is part of a PhD study undertaken by Patrizia Di Campli San Vito at Glasgow University as part of its Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section (GIST). 

Jaguar and Land Rover models already boast a wide range of sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to improve driver and vehicle safety, including the new generation Head-Up Display in the Range Rover Velar. The Velar also features capacitive steering wheel controls for common functions that combine with the Interactive Driver Display to help reduce driver distraction.

https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/812_381_distracteddriving2015.pdf

** http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/166314/1/166314.pdf

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