Amazon makes it easier for automakers to use Alexa inside vehicles


The kit includes source code and function libraries that enable a vehicle to process audio input and triggers and handle interactions with Alexa.

Amazon Alexa typically is used in the home for basic tasks such as setting reminders or playing music. But now, Amazon is making it easier to incorporate Alexa into a vehicle.

The e-commerce giant has released the Alexa Auto Software Development Kit, which provides developers a way to integrate all of Alexa’s core functions into in-vehicle infotainment systems, Amazon announced Thursday.

Alexa, the cloud-based virtual assistant developed by Amazon in 2014, traditionally powers devices including Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot and more. Over time, the service has expanded from voice interaction to providing real-time information, serving as a home automation system and provide other services.

The kit includes source code and function libraries that enable a vehicle to process audio input and triggers and handle interactions with Alexa. It also provides the hooks required to connect to a wake word engine, local media player, local phone and local navigation system, the company said in a release.

The development kit’s primary capabilities include: instructing the native calling service in the vehicle to place calls, enabling customers to stream audio and display media info to the head unit, setting the destination of the native turn-by-turn navigation system and searching for businesses and locations.

Along with hosting auto-specific features, the kit will include basic Alexa functionality such as providing smart home controls and weather reports, setting other custom skills and enabling notifications, the company said.

Automakers including BMW, Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen’s Seat brand and Toyota Motor Corp. already have begun working to integrate Alexa into their vehicles. Developers including Anker and Garmin have built aftermarket devices that bring Alexa into additional models. The kit — available on GitHub under the Apache License, Version 2.0 — will allow other automakers and suppliers to do the same.

The development by Amazon is another example of tech companies entering the auto space, particularly with infotainment systems. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety this year found Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were considered less distracting than several vehicles’ built-in infotainment systems. It was based on how much visual and mental demand was placed on drivers for tasks including selecting or programming audio entertainment, calling and dialing, text messaging and programming navigation. It found many automakers’ in-vehicle systems create high demand associated with completing these tasks compared with those created by tech companies.


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