• Oct 26, 2006
It's so cool when science fiction becomes science fact. Unless it goes horribly wrong. Think Arthur C. Clarke's HAL 9000 in the Space Odyssey series. At this week's Convergence 2006 Transportation Electronic Conference in Detroit, engineers, technologists and executives are discussing ways to integrate the latest advances in computer technology with your automobile, while hopefully making them less sociopathic. One particular discussion has focused on voice recognition and the way the car responds with its own voice commands. Of particular concern here is the mood of the driver in determining the tone of voice used by the computers when offering prompts.
The way the car talks back, whether or not it is sensitive to the driver's feelings, recognizing when it's a bad time to speak, these are some of the concerns for programmers. Robert Sicconi of IBM says perfecting these aspects of voice-recognition systems is crucial before they become more widely available in cars. "It's about making sure it works. We don't want the buyer to say, 'This car is a jerk.' If you just found out your best friend died, you might not want a cheerful voice speaking to you," he says.

The main concern here is driver distraction. Systems that allow more conversational speech, next-generation voice-recognition systems that should be available by 2009, should detect the driver's emotional state and make adjustments. Switching back and forth among different "personalities" to reflect a mood should help make the new systems easier to deal with. The prediction is that by 2011, knowledge management such as route planning in the navigation system will be the norm. "The next step after that will be recognizing when it's a bad time to speak to the driver. We will need to gather input from the car in terms of speed, steering, braking," Sicconi says. "The system shouldn't distract the driver at a critical time."

"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it, Dave."
- HAL 9000 in "2001: A Space Odyssey"

[Source: Wards Auto]


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  • 17 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Trivia:

      HAL was chosen as his name because the letters come before IBM
      • 8 Years Ago
      How about a 'manner mode' option?

      Guy: "Car, shut the hell up for half an hour."
      Car: "..."

      That solves a big portion of it right there.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I, for one, welcome our new artificially intelligent automotive overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #7 yeah the voice option was ridiculed incessantly at the time.

      This is a really, really dumb idea. Jeez. First the auto industry foists giant complicated touchscreen control systems on us and now we're going to have to talk to our cars. Bloody hell, auto industry! Knobs! Big friendly knobs are good!
      • 8 Years Ago
      #7 Remember well, hell even had a BetaMax that talked to you and a camera that said "use flash too dark" of couse it had a Japanese accent.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As long as every car with voice interaction comes with an obvious mute/off button, it's all good.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Your door is ajar...your door is ajar...your door is ajar...your door is ajar...
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't know if anyone knew this but as an option on the 1985 Nissan 200SX and probably on other nissan models your car could be equipped with a "voice," which didn't respond to commands but said pre-programmed messages like "door is ajar" and "key is in the ignition" instead of emitting the usual beeping noises.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "7. I don't know if anyone knew this but as an option on the 1985 Nissan 200SX and probably on other nissan models your car could be equipped with a "voice," which didn't respond to commands but said pre-programmed messages like "door is ajar" and "key is in the ignition" instead of emitting the usual beeping noises."

      Yep, so did Chrysler, even with the ultra-glitzy fluorescent display-based instrument cluster. The system was derived from Texas Instrument's Speak and Spell edu. toy. - but I wish it could scold the driver: "That is incorrect. The correct answer is I am right."
      • 8 Years Ago
      The cars of the future WILL have "speaking and listening personalities" because - well - we will be going into the future with artificial intelligence in many parts of our lives.

      A friend just bought a robot vacuum. Technically speaking, it has artificial intelligence. It was just a tad spine-chilling to watch it work, because it was doing things NOT randomly, but clearly had some plan and method to it's work.

      Right now, the Japanese and South Korean, European and American R&D operations in universities and (especially in Japan and S.Korea) at companies, some of them familiar to us "car guys and gals", are working on HUMANOID appearing ANDROIDS as well as stepping-stone home robots that, well, look like robots.

      I'm guessing that within 10 years many households in 1st world countries will have robots, the rich may have androids and virtually everyone in 1st world countries will have at least one robotized device, such as robot vac, in their homes.

      So it's likely we WILL have to "put up" with talking to machines all across a broad spectrum of our lives, to include cars.

      Here are a couple of samples to look at.

      http://www.yujinrobot.com/english/index.php

      http://www.friendlyrobotics.com/

      Finally, this one sums it all up nicely.

      Yeah, you'll be amazed. I was. Particularly at #'s 23 and 24, the Repliee Q1 (Japan) and EveR-1 (S. Kor.)

      http://www.androidworld.com/prod01.htm

      Anyone else remember the movie "A.I." ? You know, the "sex androids"? Yeah, well, the South Korean government has apparently really clamped down and made prostitution illegal so the males without anything better to do are humping plastic inert dolls, and the government's police is pulling out their hair but can't find it illegal. So how long do you suppose it will be before these robotics companies start making "special" versions of these androids and exporting them?!

      Let's face it. The VCR initially "took off" as a technology only because of porn, (or so I have read).
      So this may be what happens with adroids, too?

      In the meanwhile I'm happily married, don't want one for myself, but wouldn't mind a robot which dusted, put away dishes out of my dishwasher (a crude form of robot, is it not?), did my laundry and put away my laundry, cooked for me when I wanted and came with me to do grocery shopping. In a car which I actually get to drive and tell to shut-up when I don't want to talk!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Does anyone here think there is a market for a nice car, possibly even luxury cars WITHOUT ANY VISABLE electronics?

      Seems to me a car with everything that at least hid its electronics, including the radio, heater, etc. might have a place on the market. Many people would love the performance or luxury of say a Lexus, BMW or a Caddy, but don't want a munch of distracting electronic crap that offers little real world advantage.

      Give me a nice 2wd car, power nothing, A/C, a radio and a paper map and I am pretty happy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      GREAT - Now Skynet will have access to our cars too. Good idea guys!
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