Cerence has received a new round of funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and has signed on as a member of the three-year EMMI (Empathische Mensch-Maschine Interaktion or Empathetic Human-Machine Interaction) project. As part of the project, Cerence, a company specializing in automotive AI, will develop emotionally aware and more cognizant automotive assistants that increase trust in autonomous vehicles.
“As we continue to approach higher levels of vehicle autonomy, we know that trust will be one of the most critical factors in creating widespread consumer acceptance and adoption of autonomous cars,” explained Sanjay Dhawan, CEO of Cerence. “We are proud to join a world-class, forward-thinking group of innovators and work together to create an automotive assistant and in-car experience that helps move this important mission forward.”
In 2016, a Deloitte study (PDF) of more than 2,000 drivers in Germany found that 65 percent believe that autonomous technology is not entirely safe and reliable. In total, 90 percent of those surveyed said they would like to have the option to intervene in the operation of a self-driving vehicle. The findings on consumer confidence in Germany concerning autonomous vehicles match what other studies have concluded in the United States and elsewhere. “This is a challenge our entire industry is faced with solving together,” Dhawan said.
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As part of the EMMI project, a team at Cerence will focus on emotion-based technologies and their impact on increasing driver comfort and confidence related to autonomous vehicles. The team will be led by the company’s emotion recognition expert Dr. Raymond Brueckner and UX expert Dr. Markus Funk. One of the end goals is to develop an empathetic and intuitive automotive assistant that can respond and give feedback to drivers with an unparalleled level of emotional intelligence and understanding. This, according to the company, will help increase consumer trust in autonomous driving technologies.
Additional members of the EMMI program include Charamel GmbH, Saint-Gobain Sekurit Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG, Deutsches Forschungszentrum für künstliche Intelligenz GmbH (DFKI), CanControls GmbH, and the Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge der RWTH Aachen University (ika).