Voice Assistants Give Drivers Information on the Go

Drivers of Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with the automaker’s latest multimedia system will be able to ask a voice assistant questions about general topics or current events and get answers based on “search engine-level intelligence,” according to Cerence, the provider of this cloud-based service. 

Cerence Browse converts the verbal question to a web search, gets answers from external online information sources, selects the best one and provides a voice response. Drivers can keep their eyes on the road and do not have to use an external device. 

“Cerence Browse is a remarkable Deep Reasoning Network technology built to support automakers in creating unique, human-like responses to questions,” Cerence CEO Stefan Ortmanns said in a press release. “By implementing Cerence Browse, Toyota can expect to see overall in-car voice assistant usage increase, along with user engagement and satisfaction levels.” 

Drivers Want Access To Information 

Toyota Motor North American (TMNA) is the first automaker to deploy Cerence Browse, and its first vehicles that include the feature are the 2022 Lexus NX and the 2022 Toyota Tundra. Certain features require a subscription after an initial trial period. 

“We’re proud to be the first automaker to deploy Cerence Browse and empower our customers with on-the-go access to the information they’re accustomed to from other smart home or mobile voice assistants,” Charan Lota, vice president and executive chief engineer at TMNA, said in the press release. 

TMNA’s new multimedia system will eventually be offered on all Toyota and Lexus vehicles, the automaker said in a press release announcing its launch. To facilitate front seat occupants’ use of Cerence Browse and other features of the system, it features dual microphones, enhanced noise cancellation, speaker location and seat detection capabilities. 

Cerence notes in a fact sheet devoted to its product that with Cerence Browse, automakers can deliver a branded experience when drivers ask these sorts of general information questions; allow the driver to use the vehicle’s head unit rather than another device to engage with a voice assistant, and use over-the-air updates to enable the product or update it at any time. 

Cars Are Becoming More Like Co-Drivers 

Voice assistants in cars are becoming more like co-drivers, Christophe Couvreur, vice president of product at Cerence, told PYMNTS in October. They’re not only responding to commands, he said, but are also understanding common language and offering solutions. 

Read more: Voice-Powered, In-Car Payment Systems Streamline Transactions on the Go 

The past and present development of voice assistance has been driven by computers becoming more powerful and less expensive, data connectivity being introduced and improved, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) accelerating. 

“We are moving in the direction where you will be able to interact with your car as you normally would with any other human being,” Couvreur said. “The car will be smart enough to be like a great assistant to you, like a co-driver that can talk to you advise you and help you with things.”