SLS
Spoken Language Systems
MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

SLS TELEPHONY APPLICATIONS

MERCURY

What is Mercury?
What does Mercury know?
How do I talk to Mercury?
How does Mercury work?

What is Mercury?
A telephone-based conversational interface that provides information about flight schedules and pricing, Mercury enables users to book and price complex multi-leg travel itineraries to over 200 cities with the United States and around the world.

What does Mercury know?
The initial version of Mercury has been constrained to know only the 150 top airports worldwide, plus another 50 cities within the United States. The system is also limited to 23 major airlines. Given these constraints however, Mercury can provide information about flights travelling to and from these cities. If the user `books' an actual itinerary (the system cannot issue tickets or charge users), Mercury is also able to price the itinerary for the user.

Click here to hear an example (anonymous) exchange with Mercury.

How do I talk to Mercury?
When talking with Mercury, users must pay attention to speaking style, noise, and correcting mistakes. Please consult the Jupiter homepage for further information.

Mercury converses with the user until sufficient information is available to obtain information from the flight database. Here is an example dialogue, taken from an actual Mercury interaction.

Mercury: Welcome to Mercury, the MIT air travel planning system. I can help plan your air travel itinerary. Please tell me your user name. If you do not have a user name, please say new user.

USER: NEW USER

Mercury: Welcome. You have successfully logged onto Mercury as a new user. How may I help you?

USER: I WOULD LIKE TO FLY FROM BOSTON TO LONDON

Mercury: Flights from Boston to London. What date will you be travelling?

USER: NEXT FRIDAY IN THE EVENING

Mercury: Okay. flights from Boston to London departing between 5:00 pm and midnight o n June 25. Can you provide a departure or arrival time? The earliest nonstop flight from Boston to L ondon departing between 5:00 pm and midnight on June 25 leaves at 5:30 p.m. and arrives at 4:55 a.m. on British Airways. You arrive one day later.

USER: IS THERE A UNITED FLIGHT

Mercury: Okay. United flights from Boston to London departing between 5:00 pm and mid night on June 25. One moment please... I have a nonstop United flight leaving at 6:40 p.m. and arriving at 6:25 a.m.?

USER: BOOK THAT FLIGHT

Mercury: United flight 998 has been added to your itinerary. You depart Boston at 6:40 pm and arri ve in London Heathrow at 6:25 am. You arrive one day later. Where would you like to go next?

USER: I WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO J F K THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY

Mercury: Okay. United flights from London Heathrow to New York's Kennedy on June 29. One moment please... I have a flight departing at 1:55 p.m., a flight departing at 9:00 a.m., and a flight dep arting at 6:00 p.m. Please select one.

USER: BOOK THE EARLIEST FLIGHT

Mercury: United flight 957 has been added to your itinerary. You depart London Heathrow at 9:00 am and arrive in New York's Kennedy at 11:50 am. Where would you like to go next?

USER: I WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO BOSTON THAT SAME EVENING

Mercury: Okay. United flights from New York's Kennedy to Boston departing between 5:0 0 pm and midnight on June 29. One moment please... I have a flight departing at 8:55 p.m., and a flight departing at 7:00 p.m. Please select one.

USER: I WOULD LIKE THE SEVEN O+CLOCK FLIGHT

Mercury: United Airlines flight 7282 leaves New York's Kennedy at 7:00 pm and arrives in Boston at 8:31 pm. The total flight time is 1 hours and 31 minutes. The aircraft is a Jetstream 41 Turbo. Shall I book t his flight for you?

USER: YES PLEASE

Mercury: United flight 7282 has been added to your itinerary. You depart New York's Kennedy at 7:0 0 pm and arrive in Boston at 8:31 pm. Shall I price your itinerary?

USER: YES

Mercury: The price for your itinerary is $2065.40. Is there anything else I can do for you?

USER: NO THANK YOU GOOD BYE

Mercury: Thanks for using mercury. Have a nice day!

The telephone-based version of Mercury is not currently being deployed. However, we have a web-based version that is publicly available, along with other spoken dialogue systems.

Comments or questions to bug-galaxy@lists.csail.mit.edu



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