https://dvladigital.blog.gov.uk/2018/03/27/weve-updated-our-vehicle-enquiry-alexa-skill-on-amazon/

We’ve updated our Vehicle Enquiry Alexa skill on Amazon

Hi, I’m Matt, Chief Architect at DVLA and responsible for setting the agency’s technical direction. Last year I was thrilled when we released our first Alexa skill on the Amazon store which lets you check when your vehicle tax and MOT is due, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Moving into voice computing has allowed us to trial this innovative DVLA Alexa skill on Amazon, and given our customers more choice in how they get information about their vehicles.

Mobile phone showing Alexa app within Amazon store

How it works

Our skill allows you to tell Alexa a registration number and hear back when the tax and MOT is due for a vehicle. These details are also returned as a card in the Alexa app.

Since the launch:

  • it’s been used by more than 10,000 customers
  • 60,000 plus vehicle enquiries have been made
  • more than 850 users have been told their vehicle wasn’t taxed
  • more than 700 users have been advised a vehicle didn’t have a valid MOT certificate

Alexa has also helped raise awareness of a vehicle’s status so it gets taxed and on the road as simply, safely and efficiently as possible.

We’ve had some great feedback and our analytics show the majority of registration numbers are understood first time.

We recognise that some of our customers struggle with getting Alexa to correctly recognise the registration number - and left feedback to tell us their issues. These issues are not within the skill itself, but the Automatic Speech Recognition engine in Amazon that converts the speech to text. The accuracy depends on a number of factors, such as accents and background noise. It becomes more of an issue when saying a registration number, which is not of a fixed length, or in a pre-defined format. This is why we’ve completely revised our skill, taking advantage of new features now available in Alexa, to provide a better user experience

  1. Enable the skill in the Alexa companion app, this will bring up a new screen.
  2. Type in up to 3 registration numbers, saved as part of the skill.
  3. Ask Alexa when your tax is due.

You no longer need to read out your registration number each time. If you want to check a number that isn’t saved just ask Alexa to check a new registration number.

We need your feedback

I really look forward to receiving the feedback from the update to the skill. I’ve already learnt that there is an appetite for using voice services to interact with DVLA and I’m really excited to know what you think of the service.

Looking back...

I built the skill at home, showed people the working skill as a demo, and gained the full support of DVLA’s Executive Board to publish it. It’s fantastic to work for an organisation that embraces innovation, and is prepared to support new ideas like this. I’ve received nothing but encouragement along the way.

Want to work on interesting technical challenges on services that touch over 90% of the UK adult population?

Then come and join us!

 

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20 comments

  1. Comment by WAYNE TRAVERS posted on

    Very good works fine Great idea.

  2. Comment by Dave Rydings posted on

    Using methods such as this are just another way to ensure vehicles are taxed and insured. Every method possible should be used to ensure this an I’m glad the DVLA is embracing modern technology. It also reduces costs. Good on yer!

  3. Comment by Anthony posted on

    Is this available on google assistant please?

    • Replies to Anthony>

      Comment by Matt posted on

      Hi Anthony

      we are looking at extending this to Google Assistant in the near future. We'll update you on this blog so watch this space.

      Matt

  4. Comment by Anthony posted on

    available on google assistant please?

  5. Comment by Peter North posted on

    Great Application, but is there a possibility this can be extended to Siri on i Phone and i Pad

    • Replies to Peter North>

      Comment by Matt posted on

      Hi Peter

      Our move into Voice Computing has been carried out as a trial, and we’ve been delighted with the results to date. We chose Alexa as the market leader, but we are looking at extending this to Google Assistant in the near future. We are not actively looking at Siri at this time. The Alexa app for Android devices allows you to use Alexa on an Android device, with an iOS version due soon. The Google Assistant app is already available on iPhone and iPad. This is a rapidly evolving area, and we’re excited to see what new opportunities open up.

      Matt

  6. Comment by Mohammed Maroof dvsa.adi cars. posted on

    Good on you sir well done.

  7. Comment by Keith Biston posted on

    When is this going to be on google home as well

    • Replies to Keith Biston>

      Comment by Matt posted on

      Hi Keith

      We are looking at extending this to Google Assistant in the near future. We're excited to see what new opportunities open up. I'll be providing further updates on this blog.

      Matt

  8. Comment by C Eastwood posted on

    Good idea if you are on android
    Not so good for IOS.
    Are there any plans ???

    Thanks

    • Replies to C Eastwood>

      Comment by Matt posted on

      Hi Colin
      We're not actively looking at Siri at this time. The Alexa app for Android devices allows you to use Alexa on an Android device, with an iOS version due soon. The Google Assistant app is already available on iPhone and iPad. This is a rapidly evolving area, and we’re excited to see what new opportunities open up. I'll be providing updates on this blog.

      Matt

  9. Comment by Michael Hinton posted on

    Really exiting stuff Matt!

  10. Comment by Mick posted on

    When can we use for more than 3 vehicles

    • Replies to Mick>

      Comment by Matt posted on

      Hi Mick

      This is down to customer feedback. The assumption was storing up to 3 registration numbers would support the vast majority of users of the skill. If there is a demand to increase this, we will definitely look to do so.

      Matt

  11. Comment by Geoff posted on

    Can Alexa give you reminders about tax and not? One month before a week before , on the day and pester thereafter?

    • Replies to Geoff>

      Comment by Matt posted on

      Great question. No, the skill doesn’t provide any notifications. However, this capability is now available in preview in Alexa, and we have just gained access to it. We’ve been looking this week at how we might build this for a simple use case, and what frequency of updates would be appropriate

  12. Comment by George posted on

    My vehicle is tax exempt and yet every year, I have to fill out an online form with yourselves to 'tax' my vehicle at a cost of £0.00 or face a £1000.00 fine for driving without road tax...can you please solve that one next. As much as I'd like to be able to ask Google/Alexa if it's covered, I'd much prefer to do NOTHING! Kind regards, George

  13. Comment by Paul Webster posted on

    Is the API to perform the lookup readily and freely available to other developers?

    • Replies to Paul Webster>

      Comment by Matt posted on

      Not at this moment in time, but it is on the backlog. A key tenet of our published IT Strategy is to be ‘API First’, and this is definitely the direction we are heading