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An Alexa robot for your car

Posted on 19 November 2016

This $49 Dashbot robot is like Amazon Alexa for your car

A Kickstarter campaign for the bot has raised over $61,000 in 24 hours

The hands-free Dashbot is powered by artificial intelligence and can be used in all models of cars
The hands-free Dashbot is powered by artificial intelligence and can be used in all models of cars
Next Thing Co

Now that we’ve welcomed Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant into our homes, the next frontier for AI-powered personal assistants is the car.

Next Thing Co. (NTC) has launched the world’s first AI-powered hands-free car kit, the Dashbot. This $49 (£39) device can play music, get directions and send messages in a car, and it's all voice-powered.

Demand for the device is taking off fast. NTC launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Dashbot, which has raised $61,000 of its $100,000 goal in little over 24 hours.

The device works with an Android and iOS companion app, which pairs with the Dashbot via Bluetooth. Dashbot uses the device’s connection to connect to the internet and carry out tasks without the driver having take their hands off the wheel, or eyes off the road.

The Dashbot mounts to the dashboard with a small magnetic plate and it can be connected to the car via either USB or a 12 V power port and connects to the car’s stereo via Bluetooth or auxiliary jack. In older cars a cassete adapter and FM transmitter can be used instead.



Location search on the bot is powered by Google Maps and it also supports streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud. Dashbot runs on the Linux-based Gadget OS and has an open API so developers can add support for other services.

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It's by no means the first system to bring personal assistant technology to the car. Google’s in-car software, Android Auto, was recently upgraded to allow anyone with an Android phone to access the hands-free features by mounting their phone on a dashboard. Logitech released its ZeroTouch car mount, which again works through connecting a smartphone to a dashboard, to help turn into a smart car. What's different about the Dashbot device though, is that although it needs to be connected to a smartphone to work, the device stands alone on the dashboard.

The device’s display is made up on low-glare red LEDs with visual cues that can be understood with a quick glance.

If NTC reaches its target of $100,000 on Kickstarter by December 17, the company will begin developing the Dashbot and start sending devices out to backers in July 2017.

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