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BMW and Amazon Fuse Generative AI and Alexa for New Automotive Voice Assistant

Amazon and BMW showcased a new car voice assistant combining Alexa with the power of large language models (LLMs) and vehicle-relevant data. The upgraded BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant would theoretically meld the conversational capacity of ChatGPT with the information in the car’s manual and the power to carry out any requested task related to the vehicle.

BMW Alexa

BMW demonstrated the possibilities of the new voice assistant at CES this year, including how it can provide quick instructions and conversational answers about vehicle functions. For example, it can recommend and activate the best driving modes based on the car’s location. The voice AI operates as an expert on BMW vehicles thanks to Alexa’s LLM, enabling it to understand requests and control certain functions with human-like dialog. BMW vehicles have used AI for speech processing for years, but generative AI models raise the level of dialog complexity significantly.

“These new capabilities provide a more natural way of getting to know your new car and allow it to take select actions on your behalf. Instead of digging through your car manual, you can ask BMW’s assistant for things like recommendations on different BMW drive modes and then have the assistant activate your chosen mode,” Amazon explained in a blog post. “You can also ask for instructions on how car features work—like the parking assistance system—and hear explanations in easy-to-understand terms through the BMW assistant’s customized voice.”

BMW has already been working with Amazon through its Alexa Custom Assistant platform in a collaboration announced last year. The ACA system offers BMW the customization benefits of independent development but is supported by Alexa. BMW also has a long-term partnership with automotive voice AI developer Cerence, whose technology underlies the current BMW voice assistant. Cerence also just inked a deal with Volkswagen to integrate ChatGPT directly into VW’s voice assistant.

Generative AI for car voice assistants is rapidly becoming a trend. The inclusion of BMW car manuals in the Alexa demonstration already has a competitor. SoundHound recently released this Vehicle Intelligence feature for the SoundHound Chat AI for Automotive platform, which links to ChatGPT and other generative AI models. Mercedes-Benz began embedding ChatGPT as part of the MBUX vehicular voice assistant months ago. More recently, Cerence has revealed plans for a vehicular LLM in partnership with Nvidia, while Microsoft and TomTom have unveiled a new car voice assistant of their own.

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