CONNECTED & EMBEDDED SYSTEMS > Case
Amin Saremi has a solid educational background and considerable skill in his field. He is an electronics engineer with a focus on embedded systems and has a PhD in signal processing. Amin is a specialist in Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) and works on developing exactly that – voice technology of the future. Amin came to ESSIQ in 2016 and was thrown straight in at the deep end at Volvo Cars. A few years later and he has climbed the ladder to a new contract, as Voice Control Function and System Leader at Volvo Trucks. The contract: to implement cloud-based voice assistants in trucks – something that has never been done before.
It might sound a bit odd to do something that’s not been done before – and in some ways it is, when working with something to be tested for the first time. What Amin and his project group have been tasked with is to implement voice assistants in trucks. The contract began in April 2018, and Amin is leading the project from a technical perspective. Voice recognition is of course well-known to many people in this field, but a voice assistant is something entirely different, as Amin explains. A voice assistant is considerably more advanced: it is able to compile data and communicate with the person speaking, not just receive a message. It can find locations, stream music, look for information, without us needing to activate the function with the press of a button. It will be able to communicate with people on the same level as we communicate with each other.
Amin’s work process began by doing research and investigating the conditions for the project. He took part of the documentation that had been created before and analyzed previous suppliers and initiatives. His analysis indicated that a number of changes were necessary, and those responsible for the project agreed. The suppliers were replaced, and the project was able to begin under Amin’s technical management, with new, improved conditions.
Amin works closely with two Android developer teams. The aim is to implement the voice assistant in Volvo trucks so that the driver does not need to press any button at all, which is of course a key safety measure whilst driving. However, even if the contract is interesting and stimulating, it is not free from challenges. Amin highlights, among other things, that trucks are a tricky environment when it comes to voice technology – after all, it is noisy, something that negatively affects voice recognition. Amin and his team are therefore working a lot on acoustic parameters in order to find a working solution despite the fact that the surroundings are far from quiet. Obviously, it is also a huge challenge when you are the first in your field, as there are no real reference objects, and few people to ask for advice. So, it’s largely about testing and evaluating, and using your skills, your team, and your experiences to find a way forward.
The project has enabled Amin to gain several new skills, including in Human Machine Interaction (HMI) and leadership, and obviously in ASR and its possibilities in this context. The work has gone well, and the interim results have received a positive reception. Amin and his project group have achieved a key goal: to be able to talk on the phone using voice control in the truck. During the demo sessions, the contract managers were happy with what had been achieved, and Amin explains that he had been given good support from the suppliers, who were eager to see the product implemented in this context. They’re eager – and so are we. We look forward to seeing the vehicles of the future, where modern voice technology will be a key component. Luckily, the future is closer than we think.