Alexa Upgrades Ford Cars With Personalized Voice Commands
Ford and Lincoln drivers will be able to set custom Alexa voice commands for their thanks toa new updated to the Alexa Built-In system. This upgraded ‘Car Control’ lets drivers teach Alexa how they prefer to issue commands, even if it’s an indirect comment on an issue that the car voice Ai can address.
announced that it will integrate Amazon Alexa directly into hundreds of thousands of vehicles this year using its new Power-Up program of Over-the-Air (OTA) updates. The hands-free version of Alexa includes all of the voice assistant’s standard and automotive-specific features, including control over the car’s locks and remote control over smart home devices. The new Alexa arrangement comes just a few months after Ford unveiled plans for building Google Assistant and Android into millions of Ford cars starting in 2023.
The idea behind Car Control is the Teachable AI for cars Alexa feature added at the end of 2021 that lets users decide what phrases will activate Alexa tasks, much like the alternative phrase triggers for Alexa Routines. Different comments can be tied to a chosen action. The training comes from telling Alexa something that isn’t a direct order. Saying, “Alexa, I’m cold,” will prompt the voice assistant to ask if they should turn off the air conditioner or turn up the heat. Or, a driver could say “Alexa, my windshield is foggy,” to trigger the defroster. The voice commands can still be direct, like asking Alexa to set the temperature to beach weather, having taught the voice assistant that beach weather means 78 degrees, or similar.
“Ford pioneered SYNC in-vehicle voice technology, and Amazon’s Alexa voice AI continues to advance the industry with more innovative, personalized experiences,” Ford Core Speech Technology supervisor Yvonne Gloria said. “We are making it even easier for drivers to stay focused on driving by using more voice commands because you can now train your vehicle to do tasks based on your preferences and how you naturally speak.”
The new teachable AI is part of Ford’s plan to integrate Amazon Alexa directly into hundreds of thousands of vehicles Over-the-Air (OTA) using the Power-Up program of updates. The hands-free version of Alexa includes all of the voice assistant’s standard and automotive-specific features, including control over the car’s locks and remote control over smart home devices. The Power-Up system will update the software remotely in about 700,000 Bronco, F-150, Mustang, Mach-E and a few other models on the road in North America by the end of the year. The Alexa features are part of a three-year free trial, requiring an as-yet vague subscription service afterward.
The further integration of Alexa features into Ford continues Amazon’s recent run of success in vehicular voice AI. That includes a deal with auto giant Stellantis to incorporate Alexa in millions of cars. Stellantis counts a couple of dozen big vehicle brands under its umbrella, the result of a merger by FCA and Groupe PSA. On the technology front, the new Alexa Auto SDK 4.0 offers more ways to connect Alexa to automobiles. Amazon and Ford are also working on a vehicular voice assistant for commercial vehicles and other projects. This is despite Ford saying it will build Google Assistant and Android into millions of Ford cars starting in 2023. Customized commands are likely only part of Amazon and Ford’s plan to encourage drivers to use the voice assistant and make it like using Alexa in the home.
“We are always working to improve the in-cabin experience, and core to that is making it easier for customers to naturally interact with Alexa,” Amazon Smart Vehicles general manager and director John Scumniotales said. “The enhanced Car Control features offer customers a new level of personalization—and demonstrating this functionality with Ford is an important step toward our vision of conversations with Alexa feeling as familiar as speaking with a family member or friend sitting in the passenger seat.”