Can AI voice assistants enhance passengers' trust in self-driving cars?
Jan 17, 2019

 Ten years ago, if a car engineer dared to talk about the "human-computer interaction interface" of the vehicle, they would definitely be ridiculed as "mad" by their peers. However, with the rise of AI, the right to speak has now turned to these "mad" engineers, and in the field of autonomous vehicles, human-computer interaction has become an indispensable part.

Although the concept of human-computer interaction has been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, until now the vehicle's "interactive interface" contains only a few simple elements: geographic location, feedback and movement of the steering wheel, pedals, shifts and the feel of various switches. For the functions that these drivers have to touch every day, the car manufacturers have failed to reach global standards. Everyone is doing what they want, and the design language is a mess.

  Even so, car manufacturers have no sense of crisis. But consumers are a bit unhappy, and in this era when kids can play smart phones, they also want the car to have a similar user interface and feedback. As for the high-definition touch screen, applications, the Internet, and virtual assistants such as Alexa or Siri, it is even more important.

  It is understood that with the imminent era of autonomous driving, drivers need to understand in a simple and clear way who is in control of the vehicle. This change is unprecedented in the history of automotive development, so the industry will also face a series of special challenges.

  “Automakers are indeed facing major changes in vehicle design in this fast-changing automotive market,” emphasized Adam Emfield, head of driving labs and lead user experience manager at Nuance Communications, which provides AI systems for several automakers. “The concept of connected cars has been on fire for years, but with the rise of new forms such as electric cars, semi-automatic and fully automated vehicles, and even shared travel, new design paradigms must take them into account. For consumers, The technical configuration of vehicles has gradually become an important indicator of their wallets, which means that human-computer interaction has already stood in the middle of the stage."

  The electric car that has said goodbye to the fuel has now eliminated the oil meter, and the user can clearly see the battery usage and estimated cruising range data on the central control large screen to alleviate their battery life anxiety. The hybrid model will show whether the engine or the motor is working on the instrument panel, and even the energy recovery process will be clearly displayed.

  As for semi-automatic driving systems like the Tesla Autopilot, the Nissan Propilot and the Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot, they have their own unique interaction logic.

  So what about the new system of fully automatic driving in the future? How does it clearly tell the driver who is the finalist? Driver? AI? Or AI+ driver double insurance?

  “A series of semi-autonomous vehicle traffic accidents put drivers and vehicle safety issues back in the center of vision,” says Emfield. “Trusting the vehicle has become one of the biggest challenges for the success of semi-automatic and fully automated vehicles in the future.”

  After Uber and Tesla's vehicles took turns, people's trust in self-driving cars was greatly reduced. A survey by the American Automobile Association in May showed that 73% of American drivers are afraid to ride a fully-automobile car, compared with only 63% six months ago. Even more worrying is that only 19% of drivers are willing to believe in self-driving cars.

  In Emfield's opinion, the AI assistant can come in handy at this time. “This also requires the AI assistant to effectively build a bridge of trust with the driver or passenger. The assistant needs to help the passengers to maintain a calm mood, to help them keep abreast of the state of the vehicle and the reasons for the vehicle to make every decision, and even let the passengers feel that they have been Hold the control of the vehicle."

  It’s really interesting to let passengers feel that they have control. After all, car manufacturers have been promoting the function of their own vehicles. When the new Audi A8 was launched in July last year, the German luxury brand said that once the law on self-driving cars was officially passed, the vehicle's automatic driving system would “make the driver's hands leave the steering wheel forever to focus on other activities. For example, watching TV."

  Emifield also emphasized that trust can be obtained by encouraging drivers to communicate with the vehicle. Nuance discovered in the study that vehicles that can acquire anthropomorphic characteristics through communication and language also have an advantage in gaining human trust.

  “In a nutshell, when a car speaks, it can give the driver and passengers a feeling that the car looks a lot like people. Therefore, those manufacturers who have come back in advance are very keen on the car. Integrate a well-designed voice assistant."

  Don't believe it, there are already many manufacturers who have started to approach the tech giants to move AI assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant into their own cars. For example, BMW, Mini, Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen all expressed strong interest in Alexa, and some models will have a new "soul" this year.

  Emfield also pointed out: "The study also found that if the 'transfer of control' between the vehicle and the driver can be accomplished through sight, hearing and touch, human trust will be further enhanced."

  That is to say, the "three big King Kong" in the hearts of ordinary people - voice assistants, autonomous driving and touch screens can not fully meet the needs of the automotive industry, there are still many to explore in the future.

  "The industry has begun to move toward the next generation of interactive interfaces. It is no longer just trapped in the voice assistant's category, but is looking for answers in eye tracking, gestures and some non-verbal technologies. That is, the future is placed on the driver, There is limitless possibilities in front of passengers and vehicles,” Emfield explained.

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