Cerence Launches ARK Assistant Platform for Carmakers to Build Custom Voice Assistants

Artificial intelligence for cars developer Cerence released a new automotive voice assistant platform on Tuesday called the Cerence ARK Assistant. ARK Assistant is designed to be turnkey, with minimal adjustments necessary to allow car manufacturers to augment their vehicles with a customized voice assistant.

Driving Voice

The platform uses Cerence’s technology as a way to speed up the creation of a custom voice assistant for cars. The company claims it can cut the time needed to build the voice AI in half. The platform uses Cerence’s speech recognition and text-to-voice technology to understand people and respond in a relatively human voice. The AI uses Cerence’s database of abilities and knowledge to handle requests, including directions, music, and environmental control, and even diagnosing problems with the car. The final product can be adjusted by the carmaker, depending on what they are looking to provide to drivers. That includes the operating system. ARK Assistant was initially built for Android, but Cerence can make it work on platforms like Microsoft and QNX. LG and Cerence even signed an agreement recently so that cars with LG can support ARK Assistant.

ARK Assistant will be only in U.S. English, to begin with, but Cerence said it plans on adding new languages soon. As Cerence notes, Voicebot’s data has found a rapid rise when it comes to in-car voice assistant usage in the U.S. Active users have grown 15% over the last 15 months, and nearly two-thirds of the adults in the U.S. include the voice assistant when deciding whether to buy a car. Those trends make a tool that cuts down on the time and resources spent to build a good car voice assistant potentially very attractive to carmakers.

“As in-car voice assistant usage grows exponentially and consumers demand access, we are proud of this milestone development of Cerence ARK Assistant to help automakers deliver robust solutions to stay ahead of their competition,” Cerence executive vice president Stefan Ortmanns said in a statement. “With these new packaged innovations, we offer OEMs decades of experience building state-of-the-art voice solutions, plus the agility to get to market in just three to six months.”

Cerence Accelerates

There’s been a blitz of new products from Cerence since it spun out of Nuance to focus on cars in October. The company debuted a new tool for customizing the voice of car voice assistants called My Car, My Voice in January, followed in February by Cognitive Arbitrator, a product that lets automakers offer multiple, simultaneously available voice assistants within a car, and the Cerence UX Services analytics platform in March. The new products and two enormous deals valued at $125 million and $140 million helped the company beat analyst expectations for revenue this quarter.

The current COVID-19 health crisis may slow things down for the company for the rest of the year, but the demand for voice assistants in cars is still on the upswing, and Cerence faces some growing competition from Amazon and Google. Both tech giants have been extending their reach in car AIs, with new car-focused features for Alexa and Google Assistant, new partnerships, a motorcycle version, and even offering voice payment for gas. The ARK Assistant is angling more for those manufacturers who want to put their own stamp on their vehicular voice assistant. Cerence, however, won’t have all in-vehicle voice services to itself, as car companies like Honda are already using AI developers such as SoundHound for that purpose. Still, the ARK Assistant marks another milestone for Cerence as it goes for the inside track in voice assistants for cars.


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