Cerence will be working with the German government in an effort to raise the emotional awareness of in-car virtual assistants. In doing so, the two parties are hoping to make drivers more willing to trust autonomous vehicles following a Deloitte study that found that many German drivers are still skeptical of the technology. More specifically, 65 percent of the study’s respondents are worried that the technology is not yet reliable, while 90 percent said they would want the ability to take control of an autonomous vehicle at any time.
However, Deloitte did find some evidence to suggest that the technology is worth pursuing. The majority (61 percent) of the respondents indicated that they would be interested in trying some of the latest advancements with regards to self-driving cars.
With that in mind, Germany is putting together an Empathetic Human-Machine Interaction (EMMI) project, which is set to run for a three-year period. Cerence will be acting as a member of the project, and will receive funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy to carry out its task.
Cerence’s EMMI team will be led by Raymond Brueckner and Markus Funk. Brueckner is the company’s emotion recognition expert, while Funk is a UX specialist. Together, they will leverage Cerence’s conversational speech recognition technology to deliver a more responsive assistant that is able to detect and respond to the emotional cues in the driver’s voice.
“We know that trust will be one of the most critical factors in creating widespread consumer acceptance and adoption of autonomous cars,” said Cerence CEO Sanjay Dhawan. “We are proud to join a forward-thinking group of innovators to create an automotive assistant and in-car experience that helps move this important mission forward.”
Cerence currently runs a DRIVE Lab in Ulm, Germany, where it has used gaze tracking to make sure that smart windshields are not overly distracting. Other members of the EMMI project include Charamel GmbH, Saint-Gobain Sekurit Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG, Deutsches Forschungszentrum für künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, CanControls GmbH, and the Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge der RWTH Aachen University.