Nuance Communications, a Nasdaq listed specialist in artificial intelligence (AI), has announced that it is providing automotive-grade speech recognition for Geely. This comes as the Chinese carmaker embarks upon a joint venture with Proton to jointly develop vehicles for sale in Southeast Asia and beyond.

The US company says that this marks the first time any speech recognition provider has built AI-powered speech solutions specifically for Southeast Asia. Nuance also collaborated with Daimler to develop and power the latest Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) multimedia system.

Through their joint venture, Geely will provide Proton with a set of vehicle platform technologies, including Nuance’s AI-powered speech solutions built specifically for the cars. Last month, Proton secured the license to produce and sell three Geely models for the ASEAN market – the Boyue (Proton X70), the SX11 B-segment SUV and yet to be unveiled VF11 MPV. The agreement covers Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand markets.

Proton will produce and sell three Geely models in ASEAN – the Boyue (X70), SX11 SUV and VF11 MPV

Working with Geely, Nuance leveraged its Dragon Drive connected car platform to develop a speech solution comprised of automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding and text to speech capabilities optimised for use in ASEAN, with a focus on recognition and accuracy for Malaysian-accented English, also known colloquially as Manglish.

The solution also provides a specialised, voice-powered user interface and experience that includes in-vehicle controls like air conditioning, car windows, and sunroof; music control; navigation; and content search for points of interest, music and weather. Voice command is one of the X70’s headline features, as sampled by prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad here.

“We’re proud to be part of this historic joint venture between Geely and Proton, which is sure to transform the automotive market in China and Southeast Asia. This represents a significant step forward in our efforts to partner with automakers in the region, and we look forward to leveraging our presence to expand our support for Geely and Proton as they begin their work together,” said Stefan Ortmanns, executive VP and GM at Nuance Automotive.

Nuance worked with Daimler on the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system

“Part of the goal of our joint venture with Proton is to bring more advanced and innovative cars and enhanced mobility to the Southeast Asia region, and technology innovation in the car is a big part of that. It’s clear that AI-powered speech recognition will have a significant role to play, of course in today’s vehicles, but also in the car of the future. Our work with Nuance is extremely important as we work toward that future,” said Yang Jun, Proton’s VP of engineering.

Nuance Automotive specialises in conversational AI tech for cars. With the Dragon Drive platform, the company claims to offer a deeply integrated, hybrid solution that can be customised to become a smart automotive assistant that is seamlessly integrated into the user’s connected ecosystem. Today, Dragon Drive ships globally in more than 200 million cars across more than 40 languages. Customers include Audi, BMW, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, GM, Hyundai, Toyota and China’s SAIC.

If you haven’t realised, even within Malaysia, English sounds different when spoken by different ethnic groups – let’s hope all styles are covered. Hi Ploton, I want ladio and akon.