Wolfsburg, 2010-09-22

Voice control research project: Car of the future understands simple everyday speech

Volkswagen AG presents in-vehicle voice input as easy as A, B, C

“Just speak” (in German, “Einfach Sprechen”) is the motto of the “Voice Control” research project currently underway at Volkswagen Group Research. An innovative voice control system will in future provide the customer with natural-speech voice control for telephone and address books.

Although today's voice control systems do enable drivers to efficiently control the infotainment system without having to take their hands off the steering wheel, navigation destinations and telephone numbers must be input using specific commands.
“The aim of our activities is to make it easier to use speech dialogue systems. Users will not have to learn commands in future,” commented Dr Peter Oel, Head of Control Designs and Drivers at Volkswagen Group Research. “Input that has not been previously set, such as ‘Uh, I want to call Clara Schumann now’, will be easily recognised.” This “just speak” approach was made possible with the aid of statistical speech models, which are based on collections of utterances made by real people. “These models facilitate natural-speech comprehension by evaluating user input on the basis of knowledge,” reported Gordon Seitz, Speech Control Project Manager at Volkswagen Group Research.

In addition to complete sentences, isolated utterances (“Clara Schumann. Call!”) can also be spoken. The order of the utterances does not matter. A form-based dialogue system guides users until the voiced goal is accomplished. The user can change the goal at any time during the dialogue: “I want to call Clara Schumann at the office – uh no, at home.” The system being presented allows both the input of freely spoken sentences and conventional commands.

The voice control system was developed in cooperation with SVOX and will be presented in Zurich on 23 September 2010 at the SVOX Forum, an expert conference on speech dialogue systems.