Agero Advocates for Speech in Cars

In comments submitted last week, Agero, a provider of driver assistance services and vehicle connectivity innovation, strongly encouraged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to consider including performance-based guidelines to mitigate driver distraction.

Agero's position is that interactive speech recognition technology needs to be considered simultaneously in NHTSA's current evaluation of in-vehicle visual and manual interfaces for both embedded and portable electronic devices. NHTSA's current research roadmap indicates it will address potential speech/voice guidelines in 2014.

Despite NHTSA's good-faith attempt to develop non-binding, voluntary guidelines in three phrases—embedded vehicle interfaces, portable device interfaces, and voice interfaces—the reality is that all three (including haptic and gesture display technologies, as well as remote, pre-drive interfaces) are already beginning to converge.

"From the perspective of driver safety and usability, one must consider if there are interface technologies better suited to perform secondary driving tasks," said Gary Wallace, Agero's vice president of government affairs. "Emerging in the vehicle cockpit is a mix of currently available technologies working together to help the driver not only keep hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road, but better manage in-vehicle workloads in a safer manner."

Wallace emphasized that in addressing driver distraction, the benchmarks designed for visual-manual tasks will not be relevant in determining voice/speech targets. Agero is currently conducting a research study with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute specifically on issues affecting driver distraction.

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