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Automakers deploy Cerence AI, Apple unlocking expansion rumored

Cars get a cloud-based twin for AI analytics, digital backseat driving
Automakers deploy Cerence AI, Apple unlocking expansion rumored

In an evolving area of opportunity for differentiation between marques and models, manufacturers are working with specialist biometrics developers to integrate new features. In the latest round of automotive AI and biometric advances, Apple may be rolling out its (optionally biometric) CarKey feature, while EV makers NIO and VinFast are integrating more tech by Cerence.

Could biometric Apple CarKey be going beyond BMW soon?

Apple’s CarKey allows iPhone and Apple Watch users to register a virtual car key on their Apple device which unlocks a car door and then allows the engine to be started via NFC. iPhone 11 and beyond users do not even need to take their phones out of their pocket thanks to the U1 chip. Users can require a biometric authorization for the action such as Touch ID or Face ID.

Although launched in 2020 at WWDC, so far only a few BMW models have used it. But a report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who works the Apple news beat, finds that the technology may be going beyond BMW to include Hyundai’s Genesis line this year, reports 9to5Mac.

“In line with code findings several months ago in iOS 15, I’m hearing that the next cars to get support for the feature will be models from Hyundai and its Genesis line. I’m told the functionality will roll out by the summer,” writes Gurman in his Power On newsletter.

China’s NIO and Vietnam’s VinFast add Cerence tech

NIO, the electric car and scooter brand, is incorporating Cerence’s conversational AI into its ES8 SUV model as the carmaker expands in Norway. The turnkey Cerence Automotive Platform works as a voice assistant via on-board and cloud-based conversational AI and natural language processing, text-to-speech and signal enhancement. It works even with limited connectivity.

“NIO is a pioneer and a game changer at the forefront of the future of electric vehicles, transforming the innovation landscape in today’s automotive industry in China and worldwide,” comments Charles Kuai, SVP and general manager of Mobility Solutions at Cerence.

“We’re proud to partner with NIO in developing a digital companion that supports and excites their drivers with an intuitive, intelligent, future-forward assistant experience.”

For VinFast, the user experience could become more futuristic still as Cerence creates a real-time, digital representation of the car in the cloud.

The Cerence Connected Vehicle Digital Twin (CCVDT) is a cloud and software-based product integrates with VinFast models to create a virtual representation of the vehicle in the cloud. This can demonstrate in real-time the real-world situation of the mechanics, electrics, software and physical behavior of the car along with driver data and environmental conditions around the car.

This modelling is expected to allow for an improved driving experience with “proactive AI notifications.” Drivers can look forward to notifications of missed stopped signs or similar and suggestions on how to improve their driving.

Personal preferences will affect what parking suggestions the car offers. The car will also make predictions on fuel and tire pressure and precondition a car for predicted weather conditions.

While biometrics are not specifically mentioned in the announcement, references to personalized setting and services and what Cerence CTO Prateek Kathpal refers to as “driver-specific elements” seem to indicate identification.

Upcoming use cases could see interaction with electric vehicle charging networks for plug availability as well as options such as making a car available as a place for packages to be delivered.  Either is presumably a short step away from requiring user authentication.

“The incredible capabilities of Cerence Connected Vehicle Digital Twin are key in our efforts to creating the world’s first truly connected car that will revolutionize the driving experience and delight our drivers,” comments Hong Sang Bae, VinFast CTO.

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