Morris Garages, or MG as it’s better known, is remembered for its quaint little sports cars — at least here in the states. The brand nearly went belly up in the early 2000s. But it was saved by a Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) in 2011. Since then, MG has been reimagined with high-tech new models that feature advanced technology and electric powertrains.
To that end, the India-based arm of MG and U.S.-based Nuance Communications announced this week that the two were partnering to bring artificial intelligence (AI) voice assistant, called iSMART, in the forthcoming MG Hector crossover for the Indian market. iSMART will serve as a virtual assistant to drivers and passengers. Its voice recognition technology can understand 100 commands. However, it will use machine learning and over-the-air updates to grow its vocabulary and capability.
At the outset, the iSMART system will offer a broad range of functionality. Instead of pushing an ignition button, Hector drivers will instead say “Hello MG.” The vehicle will then start. Furthermore, drivers can use voice commands to raise and lower the windows, open the moonroof, activate the air conditioning, and engage the navigation system.
iSMART is said to understand drivers and passengers and learn their needs and preferences through computing power both embedded in the Hector and also in the cloud. Hector will feature a 10.4-inch vertically oriented touchscreen in the center dash through which other vehicle operations can be accessed.
Importantly, when Hector goes on sale with iSMART in the Indian market, it will represent that country’s first Internet-enabled vehicle. This is significant because, although humongous, the Indian market has been mostly ignored by the automotive technological developments enjoyed by most other large markets. Hopefully MG will be a success and help bring the burgeoning Indian market into the new technological era.