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Google Cloud Will Power Toyota and Lexus Voice Assistants Even Offline

Toyota and Google Cloud have inked a deal to augment the voice assistant in Toyota and Lexus cars with Google Cloud’s AI-based speech services. The Toyota Audio Multimedia and Lexus Interface infotainment systems will both see improved voice AI features, functional even when the car cannot connect to the internet.

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The new partnership augments the car using the updated system to process voice requests and answers within the car, without having to send data to the cloud and receive a response. This “Speech On-Device” feature, as Google names it, has become more popular as people use their car voice assistant more frequently and want to do so even if there’s no internet access. The service essentially imitates the AI model used by Google Assistant on Pixel devices and some other Android smartphones.

“By working closely with Toyota to understand its in-vehicle device requirements and capabilities, we were able to provide server-like quality while using only a small fraction of the processing power to ensure the best possible experience for drivers,” Google Cloud vice president of global strategic customers & industries Umesh Vemuri said.

The deal works as an expansion of Toyota and Google Cloud’s agreement from back in 2018. The arrangement has brought new services to Toyota cars for a while, including the Joya interactive owner’s manual for the 2021 model Sienna. Joya uses Google Cloud and DialogFlow to process questions from drivers and provide answers on the new Sienna’s many extra features via the driver’s smartphone. Toyota isn’t exclusive with Google. However, the carmaker has integrated a voice-based search engine from Cerence. Toyota was also the first to experiment with Cerence Cloud Services, albeit only in Japan. Still, with Google Cloud continuing its efforts to attract carmakers through new features and upgraded speech AI models, Toyota may not be alone in turning to the on-device processing offered by Google.

“Today’s announcement represents refinement that comes with years of collaboration between Toyota and Google Cloud to perfect how our technologies work with one another,” CEO and president of Toyota Connected North America Steve Basra said.” We are excited to announce this next step in development for in-vehicle voice AI, as it will bring even more benefits to Toyota and Lexus drivers, including speed and ease of use.”

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