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EV Car - An Alexa skill for Amazon Echo / Tesla integration

EV Car - An Alexa skill for Amazon Echo / Tesla integration

SUN 2 DRV | January 25, 2017

Very interesting.... based on the huge interest in Amazon Alexa shown at CES, I'm guessing this will be very popular with the techie crowd here too...

SCCRENDO | January 25, 2017

Cool. Will try it. Thanks

Frank99 | January 25, 2017

I don't need Amazon eavesdropping on every conversation I have, thank you very much.

Captain_Zap | January 26, 2017

+1 Frank99

rxlawdude | January 26, 2017

@Frank and @CZ, why not? I heard Alexa might solve a murder. And how cool will it be to get targeted ads on your Internet browsing after Alexa hears you mention you like xyz to your spouse at home?

I'm with the Luddites on this one. :-)

SCCRENDO | January 26, 2017

Getting my car back today. Have already set up Alexa. I will start using it.

rxlawdude | January 26, 2017

@SCC, when an Amazon app suddenly comes up on your center screen... ;-)

SCCRENDO | January 26, 2017

@Rx. You think Trump is getting Alexa to watch me??

rxlawdude | January 26, 2017

@SC, I think he's preoccupied with his crowd size. Why does "size" come up in so many of Trump's tweets?

EVRider | January 26, 2017

Just received my Echo Dot today, and tried out EV Car on my Model S. The first time I tried to use it, Alexa told me it couldn't find the skill, but when I looked at the Alexa app history, I saw that it heard "TV Car" rather than "EV Car." The second attempt worked great -- I asked how far I could drive, and I got the current charge status (car was charging) and estimated range (something like "between 176 miles and 164 miles"). Very cool!

@nikhil: You said in the TMC thread that someday you'd like to support other (non-Tesla) EVs, and you also said that you'll be adding support for multiple Teslas using the same account. Keep in mind that the skill will need to handle multiple accounts, which might be for different types of cars or the same model, so it will be important to be able to identify a car by user-defined name (e.g., "My Tesla" vs. "Sue's Tesla" vs. "The i3").

nikhil | January 27, 2017

@EVRider, thanks for your comments. FYI the format of the battery status response is "... range is between and "

Regarding multiple vehicles, the more I think about it - it seems that the only way to handle that would be to actually manage user accounts and then associate vehicles to each account. The current simple approach of associating a tesla token to a skill will not scale.

EVRider | January 28, 2017

@nikhll: One minor suggestion regarding the "range is between xxx and yyy" report -- my wife and I both thought it was odd to say the higher value first (e.g., "between 240 and 220"); it's more common to state the lower value first.

Does the Alexa skills API let you define an alias for the skill name that people can say? For example, until you support non-Tesla vehicles, it would be convenient to say "ask Tesla..." rather than "ask EV Car" to avoid Alexa hearing "TV Car" instead.

nikhil | January 28, 2017

My response didn't go through properly. The format is "range is between [estimated-range] and [rated-range]". My estimated range has never been been higher than rated. Looks like your driving habits are much better than mine :) I guess I could change the text so the values are more specific.

The name is fixed for a skill. Amazon also has strict guidelines for this name - it has to be two words and cannot infringe on trademarks etc. I had to go through a few iterations before coming up one that is generic enough that they would approve it.

EVRider | January 28, 2017

Interesting. Most of my driving is on the highway at 80mph, though it's in South FL so it's always warm and mostly flat. I just checked again, and EV Car told me my battery was at 86% and my "estimated range is between 243 and 233 miles." The Tesla app on my phone displays 233 miles (rated range). My actual range is often less than the rated range if I'm driving on the highway.

Since you use the word "estimated" I guess it would be good to add text to distinguish between estimated and rated range, e.g. "your estimated range is xxx miles and your rated range is xxx miles"; or better yet, just provide the rated range like the app does, since that's what most people are accustomed to seeing.

Thanks for the info on the skill name. You said the skill name has to be 2 words, but I see skills on the Amazon web site with names that have one word or 3+ words; how does that work?

nikhil | January 28, 2017

The skill name has to be "at least" two words. It can be one word if thats a brand name or trademark that you own. I also think this is a new limitation.

The spoken text for the range has been changed now.

EVRider | January 29, 2017

Thanks for the quick fix and for clarifying the naming rules.

EVRider | February 14, 2017

@nikhil: I was disappointed to learn today that the EV Car skill has been discontinued. I looked at the EV Car thread on TMC to find out why, and I see that Amazon no longer allows skills that unlock a car door; you said that you removed the feature and resubmitted the revised skill for recertification.

Would you mind posting an update here when the skill becomes available again, for those of us who don't monitor the TMC forum? Thanks in advance.

nikhil | April 3, 2017

@EVrider sorry I don't get notifications when comments are posted here. The skill was down for some time but Amazon did ultimately reinstate it. I have also cloned it to a new skill called "My Tesla" once enabled, you can invoke that skill by using the words "my car". A lot of folks wanted an easier to use invocation name. For owners who have more than one tesla, the skill now support switching between cars.

nikhil | April 3, 2017

Here is a direct link to the Alexa skill: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N9Y4I1E . Feel free to leave honest feedback !

Tarla's Driver | April 4, 2017

I see another very similar skill: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XQX2XJG
I prefer the one nikhil posted, as I prefer to "ask my car" to "ask Elon." What I would really like is to be able to use my car's name, but I think that's running into the limits of what Amazon currently allows for skills.

Tarla's Driver | April 4, 2017

One thing that would be helpful would be "Ask my car how far away it is." (Though if it could do "How far away is my car?" that would be awesome--come on Amazon, step up your game.) If I have to register a location for my Echo, that's fine. What would be even more awesome would be a response like, "Your car is 7.8 miles away and driving. Google Maps suggests that it could get home in 17 minutes from that location." Obviously that would require some significant extra development to compute a route between the two locations.

In any case, thanks for the skill. I really appreciate it.

nikhil | April 18, 2017

That is an interesting use case. Thinking more about it, it should be possible to implement within the current infrastructure. As a one-time setup, the user could say "set current location as home". The skill now stores its own session information so it could be saved as part of that data. Then, asking for "how far" could use Google APIs to compute distance from the current location to saved home location.

Having said that, I wonder how useful this use-case would be.

rxlawdude | April 18, 2017

I forgot which skill I have at home on the Echo Dot, but it uses "ask my valet ..." as the trigger.

But if you ask for the charge level, it provides the percentage and rated range. Unfortunately, it seems blissfully unaware of the rated range of the various battery sizes of Teslas, and mis-reports miles as if I had an 85kWh battery (I've got a 70D).

nikhil | April 19, 2017

@rxlawdude That is a different skill. Try "My Tesla" from https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N9Y4I1E. The invocation for this one is "ask my car...". For battery level, this provides percentage, estimated and rated ranges.

james | April 29, 2017

Hi, I'm the developer of My Valet. Just thought I'd chip in and mention that the value of available miles is the value that comes back from Tesla, it's not calculated or making any battery assumptions or any such. Also, estimated miles is pretty pointless anyway really, as driving style/conditions render it a guess and nothing more.

nwujames | March 14, 2019

@nikhil - love the skill. Thank you. We recently became a two Tesla family. Is there a means to switch across cars when both Teslas are on the same Tesla account?

rxlawdude | March 14, 2019

bumping past the Chinese spamshit.