Mercedes Rolls Out Custom Voice AI Tourguide Feature From Cerence
Mercedes-Benz has introduced a voice AI travel companion called Tourguide as part of the MBUX voice assistant, offering insight on the history and points of interest along the journey, including restaurants and other places to book reservations in Germany. The new feature adapts the Tour Guide feature created by its voice assistant partner Cerence in early 2021, not long after Mercedes renewed its partnership with Cerence to provide the voice AI tech for its vehicles.
Mercedes German Tours
Cerence powers the MBUX conversational AI platform, enabling control of environmental, entertainment, and other systems in many Mercedes cars, and that includes the Tourguide feature where it’s available. The customized version of the feature responds to the MBUX voice command “Hey Mercedes, start Tourguide,” although only in Germany at the moment. The company said it plans to add it to its vehicles in other countries soon. The actual script read out by the AI is uniquely designed for Mercedes‑Benz but is based around the around 3,400 brown tourist information signs on the German autobahn. Once engaged, the tour guide will automatically start reciting the information when the driver passes the next sign, though it will shut off after 90 minutes of no activity should the driver pull off for a break or a meal.
“If “Tourguide” is activated, MBUX automatically reads out useful information on places of interest along the way. On holiday trips or weekend getaways, or even for business travellers, “Tourguide” provides a welcome and informative interlude on longer journeys,” Mercedes explained in announcing the feature. “If the “Tourguide” insights regarding a particular point of interest inspire users to pay it a visit, all they have to do is simply select the navigation function and they will be guided there directly, without having to dictate or enter the names of streets or towns.”
Audio Tour AI
Cerence created Tour Guide as a white-label feature for its clients with Planned Tour version based on when the route is known and the Explore Mode to employ real-time decisions by the AI in what places and information are shared during the drive. The carmakers can adjust preferences for drivers to choose if they want to hear more about topics like history or nearby hiking trails. Cerence put together its packages for drivers from Tripadvisor subsidiary Viator and self-guided trip planner Road.Travel. Mercedes decided to create its own guide for Germany but could theoretically turn to those other sources for its Tourguide feature in other countries.
“As usage of AI-powered voice technologies grows in the car, we are always looking for new ways that we can add value to the in-car experience for OEMs and their drivers,” Cerence Applications vice president Nils Lenke said when Tour Guide came out. “Cerence Tour Guide brings a completely new set of capabilities to the mobility assistant, furthering its role as a concierge on the go with a new ability to guide drivers and passengers through exciting new journeys and deepening the connection between driver and automaker.”