Qualcomm Becomes 2nd Alexa Custom Assistant Client With New Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms

Amazon Alexa will be a native component of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms, providing the basis for voice assistants in cars built by General Motors and other automotive manufacturers. Qualcomm will be the second company to design a custom, branded voice assistant using Amazon’s new Alexa Custom Assistant platform after it rolled out with Fiat Chrysler earlier in January.

Driving Qualcomm

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms is the chipmaker’s latest setup for car companies that want custom voice assistants in their vehicles. Qualcomm was already working with Amazon to bring its Alexa Automotive SDK to cars, but the new system advances the technology and gives the resulting AI access to all of Alexa’s capabilities while still being branded by the car company. That means the wake word, features, voice sound, and other elements can align with the company’s brand but still use the Alexa Skills Kit to adjust it. Qualcomm adds some flavor to the final platform with voice identification and personalization, while the echo cancellation noise suppression feature even lets multiple people talk at the same time without confusing the AI. Qualcomm’s chip also includes updates over the air to improve how the car’s AI operates in the future.

“The hallmark of Qualcomm Technologies for the automotive industry is the ability to transform those valued, personalized experiences with smart devices for today’s personal vehicles,” Qualcomm senior vice president and automotive general manager Nakul Duggal said in a statement. “This latest optimization of Alexa Custom Assistant with Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms allows for smarter, customized and natural interactions between drivers and vehicles, which nurtures a stronger driver-to-vehicle relationship.”

Custom Chips

The renewed and extended deal shows how Amazon relies on services from firms like Qualcomm, even though there’s a shift beginning to happen in who makes AI chips. Amazon announced in November that it was moving most of its Alexa operations onto the Inferentia computer chip produced in-house and away from the Nvidia chips used by Alexa before. The point was to boost speed and reduce energy demands. Inferentia chips specialize in the machine learning tasks like recognizing language and images and generating an appropriate response, all crucial to Alexa. Meanwhile, Qualcomm’s partnership with Google is might change if Google’s partnership with Samsung to design a new chip for Pixel smartphones and Chromebook computers ends with Google replacing the Qualcomm-built chips used right now. But, for Amazon, the effort to bring get Alexa Custom Assistant into the hands of more companies makes arrangements with the chip makers with deep ties to car companies, as Qualcomm does with General Motors, an indispensable step.

“We created the Alexa Custom Assistant in response to growing demand for bespoke digital experiences that are unique to a brand while leveraging the world-class Alexa technology stack,” Alexa Automotive vice president Ned Curic said. “The pre-integration of the Alexa Custom Assistant with Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms is designed to reduce the cost, complexity and time it takes for automotive OEMs to offer their customers the choice and flexibility of simultaneous intelligent assistants.”


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