The VW Group's connectivity boom continues, as Skoda and Volkswagen are set to follow Seat in adopting leading speech recognition tech for in-car command system
Jimi Beckwith
28 September 2017

Volkswagen is also to get Amazon's Alexa voice control system, following the introduction of the system in Seat cars, as well as VAG stablemate Skoda. The latest development comes amid the VW Group's latest push for a greater level of connectivity and user-friendliness. 

The technology, which will be part of Skoda’s infotainment package in future models, will use Amazon’s more advanced speech recognition system than the current in-car voice command systems. The existing functionality has been panned by critics as over-simplistic, recognising only set phrases and rigid commands rather than natural speech.

Seat, which recently announced the advent of the third-generation Cupra R, confirmed that the technology would feature in some of its models by the end of the year, with the rest of the range following suit over the next 12 months. Brand boss Luca de Meo made the announcement earlier today at a presentation of the Spanish marque's plan for the show. 

The system will be implemented first in the Leon and Ateca by the end of this year, then will move to the Arona and Ibiza. It is the first European application of the system in an automotive environment, said de Meo. The system will be optimised for a driving situation, in place of its current, home-biased setup, he continued. New commands have been developed for automotive use, with infotainment commands now added, as well as navigation requests. Once installed, Alexa's vocabulary can and will be expanded. 

Speaking at the Skoda Digilab in Prague, Czech Republic, head of corporate development and digitalisation Andre Wehner said: “We are working on the Alexa integration, and a smart home integration to give a better service for our customers.” 

Connectivity specialist at Skoda, Kai Scheffs, said: “In the first cars which had a voice assistant, they would only understand some sentences. In the future, looking at Alexa and [Apple virtual assistant] Siri, it will definitely be something more individual, so the customer will not really have to think about what they are saying; a more flexible way to understand the customer.”

Also revealed in the plan was the idea for in-home shopping, as well as the advent of over-the-air updates, like those introduced to the car industry by Tesla. This includes the possibility of downloadable features to a car, ending the need to fully and finally spec a car before purchase, and opening up the possibility of the retrofitment of additional features at the customer’s demand. 

A timescale of Skoda’s Amazon Alexa integration has not been given, nor has that of the over-the-air updates, although the brand is looking to seize the moment as the connectivity and Internet of Things boom continues to grow. 

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Comments
12

24 August 2017

What can possibly go wrong?

4 September 2017
Squonk61 wrote:

What can possibly go wrong?

AI already exists in a lot of cars thanks to Siri and Google integration; pretty useful stuff. OTA updates seem to work well in Teslas and to be honest, it's a wonder other manufacturers haven't been offering it sooner.

The VAG group's stock voice assistant / voice control functions are absolutely shockingly horrendous (I own a Fabia with it) and Siri is by comparison in another world. 

I'd be interested to know exactly what functions they're expecting Alexa to use - will this be infotainment-focused, or will Alexa also be able to change air temperature etc? 

Regardless, voice is the future in cars - particularly in an era where manufacturers are increasingly (and blindly) adopting touch screens for everything. These do not work well for all functions - using Siri to call somebody or play a song is the most frictionless experience I've encountered so far.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

27 August 2017

How about a Microwave....?

Peter Cavellini.

5 September 2017

I bought a new Seat earlier this year (an Alhambra); I have never laughed as much as I did on the first day of ownership when along with a friend we tried to set a destination in the sat nav using voice command, we gave up.

Fortunately I had paid for Full Link, and Android Auto understands every word I say, you don't have to remember arcane syntax, and Google Maps is far better than the built in satnav.

5 September 2017

Ok until you have an argument with your wife : who will the system obey? And what of pranks from your kids, for instance? All very funny until the satnav sends you to unwanted places or the air-con is turned up or down and such... and what of foreign street names? The current satnav on VW is diabolical at phonic reproduction of text; far simpler to turn off the sound and rely on the visuals Bopening up the possibility of the retrofitment of additional features at the customer’s demand BUT eyes off the road!

"...opening up the possibility of the retrofitment of additional features at the customer’s demand..." How can this work? Ask for parking sensors to be retrofitted and see the bill roll in! Please, someone explain this bit?

 

5 September 2017

What happened to the text there? Looked ok on screen at this end!

10 September 2017

Now single blokes can also be nagged by a woman as they drive.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

28 September 2017

I guess I must be one of the few people who just doesn't want, or need all this connectivity. I prefer to concentrate on enjoying my driving wherever i'm going , but obviously most people are demanding these features from manufacturers, or they wouldn't be climbing over each other to provide it.

28 September 2017

Alexia, set temperature to 22C

"Temperature set to 24C"

Alexia, Set cabin temperature to 26C

"Cabin temperature set to 28C"

Alexia, it's absolutely freezing in here, why aren't you turning the heating on?

"Well I'm trying to but VW have programmed me never to deliver what I said I would."

29 September 2017

...or needed.

 

Pffft!

Maybe VW should concentrate on making CLEAN cars for a change....

Steam cars are due a revival.

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