Dashbot is the hands-free, eyes-free AI assistant your car is dreaming of

Luke Dormehl
Digital Trends

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We’re 30 years removed from the final episodes of the original Knight Rider, the hit series in which David Hasselhoff was aided in his crime fighting by automotive artificial intelligence assistant, KITT. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not still clinging on for the perfect in-car AI system — and thanks to new Kickstarter Dashbot, we may not be waiting too much longer.

Heck, it even has the quasi-retro interface working in its favor!

Dashbot is a smart AI assistant, designed to be 100 percent voice-controlled so drivers keep their hands on the wheel and, just as importantly, their eyes on the road. Connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth, it promises to be the on-the-road smart assistant we have been hankering after.

“A lot of the interactions we have with our phones are designed for us to look at the screen,” creator Daven Rauchwerk told Digital Trends. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in driving mode or whatever else, if you ask it a question the response is very often visual. That encourages us to look at the display, which necessarily means not looking at the road. We wanted to create a solution that wasn’t just hands-free, but completely screen-free.”

More: Google testing Trips app as a smart assistant for your vacations

dashbot-speaking-2
dashbot-speaking-2

This idea of removing the screen from in-car infotainment systems is something few other companies have embraced. “Their answer to a distracting screen in your car is often a much bigger screen,” Rauchwerk continued. “That seems strange to me. It felt like there had to be a better way.”

Dashbot may well be that better way. Its open-source system lets you do everything from sending text messages and finding songs on streaming music services to getting turn-by-turn directions and even answering trivia questions, courtesy of Amazon Alexa integration. Best of all? Because it’s screen-free, this can be done without switching apps or navigating popup controls. All you have to do is say, “Dashbot” and its onboard AI will spring to life.

Rauchwerk told us that the whole system had been built with cars in mind, with technology like a far-field beamforming microphone array and state-of-the-art digital signal processing meaning that Dashbot will hear what you’re saying regardless of how loud your music is.

Despite this, it’s pleasingly retro-fittable, with the option of even connecting to an old-school cassette adapter and FM transmitter if you’re still driving a car which could’ve appeared in the aforementioned 1980s Knight Rider TV series.

If you want to pre-order Dashbot, you can do so on the Kickstarter page linked to at the top of the page. Prices start at $49, while shipping will take place in July.