Amazon Releases Alexa SDK For Cars

Amazon has launched an open source release of the Alexa Automotive Core (AAC) SDK, or Auto SDK, enabling automakers to integrate Alexa voice control into a car’s infotainment system.

According to VentureBeat, the software development kit is free for download on GitHub, bringing Alexa to in-car dashboards for many common hands-free, voice-control tasks  such as playing music, providing turn-by-turn directions from native navigation systems, helping people find local businesses and making phone calls. In addition, Auto SDK will also be able complete tasks that Alexa can do in a smart speaker, such as control smart home devices, check the weather and launch Alexa skills.

Though carmakers like Ford and Toyota have already brought Alexa to some of their vehicles (and Alexa skills have been introduced by Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and General Motors, among others), Alexa Auto SDK is the first instance Amazon has made a development kit especially for vehicles.

However, the voice-activated assistant is getting some competition: Earlier this year, it was reported that Daimler is rolling out its own system with its new Mercedes A-Class.

The German carmaker’s A-Class lineup will include the MBUX dashboard system, which uses machine learning and voice-recognition technology to understand and process voice commands for navigation and infotainment. The system relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to anticipate commands based on drivers’ previous habits. Instead of starting conversations with Alexa or Siri, drivers will say “Hey Mercedes” upon entering the car.

“We’ve tested it already,” said Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche at the Amsterdam launch. He dispelled the idea that this launch could be a test to see if customers would want a voice-activated assistant built into the car, adding, “We don’t test on our customers.”

In an effort to keep Silicon Valley from taking the lead, car companies have been racing against tech companies to roll out in-car technology. In addition to controlling voice and advancing infotainment, car manufacturers are also developing self-driving vehicles.