Technology: The cult car Mini can now even speak

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Cult car Mini can now even speak

Technology: The cult car Mini can now even speak-mini

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Source: BMW

Technology: The cult car Mini can now even speak-technology

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With the system "Mission Control" the Mini should be given an independent personality. Since the electronic know-it-all can sometimes be annoying, you can do itswitch off, of course.

Source: BMW

Technology: The cult car Mini can now even speak-Clubman This station wagon doesn

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BMW engineer Fabrice Badaroux shows where the Mini‘s language center is located: in the glove compartment.

Source: Thomas Geiger

Technology: The cult car Mini can now even speak-mini

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Behind the glove compartment there is an electronics box and an SD memory card with the sentence building blocks.

Source: Thomas Geiger

Technology: The cult car Mini can now even speak-mini

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What the talking mini lacks, however, is the visual implementation of its capabilities. You can only see the writing on the speedometer "Mission Control". But the off-screen instructions are notht to overhear.

Source: Thomas Geiger

The Mini had to be 50 years old to learn to speak. The British small car will soon address the driver with full sentences. That sounds like a new unnecessary gimmick. However, the developers see this as the beginning of an even more intensive relationship between man and machine.

D.a was something. As soon as you have started the Mini, voices can be heard from the glove compartment. "The tank is full and so is the battery," it sounds. Well, you might have already known that, but no other car has spoken to its driver so easily, so naturally (and with three different voices).

This is made possible by what is known as Mission Control, with which BMW engineers want to improve the dialogue between the driver and the car. There are not only encouraging comments when the small car zips through the curves like a go-kart (“Yippee yeah, let’s Mini") Or a few pats for the green conscience when the automatic start-stop system switches off the engine at the red light. The drivers are also regularly informed about the speed, the fuel level and the weather.

There are also fuel-saving tips: “You could drive faster and more economically if you shut the window. That’s better for the aerodynamics, ”shouts the electronic know-it-all. Or he warns of slippery roads when it rains heavily. And of course, as soon as you take off the seat belt, the voice answers.

"With this Mission Control we give the Mini its own personality," says Product Manager Florian Reuter. An electronics box behind the glove compartment and an SD memory card with the sentence building blocks are enough to teach the car to speak. "The electronics are linked to the so-called CAN bus and draw all relevant information from this central data network of the car, which is then translated into words," says Reuter.

The comments are triggered by 120 events such as starting the engine, switching on the windshield wipers, opening the convertible top, reaching a certain speed or activating the sport mode, as project manager Fabrice Badaroux explains. "So that the driver doesn’t get bored, we have programmed 15 to 40 statements for every situation." That is more than 1500 sentences and recordings.

The system is a lot of fun on the first test drive, and again and again you shake your head happily at the stupid sayings of the "coach" and his two colleagues. But after a few minutes in city traffic, the chatter can get on your nerves. “We recognized this danger,” says Badaroux. "That’s why we’re still looking for the right compromise before the market launch: How much does Mission Control say, and how often is there radio silence?" But then of course you don’t have to buy such a system.

Mission Control will initially start as standard equipment for the Mini 50 Camden special model, which will go on sale shortly after the classic’s 50th birthday on August 26th. Because the new technology is to be used worldwide and was developed to market readiness within three months, the dialogues from the glove compartment will initially only be available in English. “After all, North America and England are our largest markets,” says Reuter. "But we are thinking hard about other options."

Even if a German translation is not immediately available, its programming is only a matter of time. First of all, the developers are already working on a retrofit solution that can be built into every Mini for “much less than the price of a navigation system”. Second, BMW still has big plans for the system. "Mission Control is just the beginning of a completely new form of information and entertainment in the vehicle," says Badaroux. We have also thought of a virtual co-pilot who gives the driver very specific tips: the fastest route to the best lap time in the John Cooper Works sports model and the golden rules for the lowest consumption in the Mini One D..

In the BMW models meanwhile, it’s about better hearing. In order to improve the acceptance and ease of use of the voice control, Alexander Huber and his team trained the system’s ability to absorb and shortened the command chains. In all model series from 1 to 7, which will be launched on the market from September, customers can enter the destination for navigation with just one command. "You no longer have to enter the city, street and house number separately and confirm them individually, but speak in full," says Huber and fluently dictates the task to his prototype: "Destination guidance Fulda, Leipziger Strabe 92". It then takes two seconds, and without any further command, the destination is marked on the map and the journey can begin.

While the car is stationary, you can still operate the system faster with the rotary wheel on the center tunnel, admits developer Huber. “But as soon as you drive, voice input is the most convenient solution.” In many countries, this may soon be the only option. "Because bans for certain functions are being discussed more and more frequently," says the BMW specialist. In Japan, you are no longer allowed to enter special destinations in the conventional way while driving.

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