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GM details its work with Google in advancing AI capabilities

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Market Trends | Technology
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General Motors (GM) shared this week how it’s working with Google Cloud to bring conversational artificial intelligence (AI) technology into millions of vehicles.

It’s doing so through its OnStar interactive virtual assistant (IVA), launched last year, which uses Google Cloud to answer common queries, help with navigation, and more.

Now that GM has hailed the collaboration a success, it said it has created new opportunities for future AI-driven deployments throughout its business.

“Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize the buying, ownership, and interaction experience inside the vehicle and beyond, enabling more opportunities to deliver new features and services,” said Mike Abbott, GM’s executive vice president of software and services. “Our software-led approach has accelerated the creation of compelling services for our customers while driving increased efficiency across the GM enterprise. The work with Google Cloud is another example of our efforts to transform how customers engage with our products and services.”

Since the companies began working together in 2019, users have gone from having access to things like Google Play and Google Assistant to vehicles being equipped with Google Cloud’s conversational AI technology, called Dialogflow.

Through that technology, available on most model year 2015 and newer GM vehicles, the automaker said its OnStar IVA is now handling more than one million inquiries per month in the U.S. and Canada.

GM said it’s using Diagflow to deploy chatbots that can conversationally answer questions about its vehicles and product features. It answers queries like “tell me more about GM’s 2024 electric vehicle lineup,” by drawing information from GM’s vehicle data repositories. 

The technology has helped OnStar better understand a customer’s question the first time it is asked, and provides a “modern, natural sounding voice,” in response, GM said.  

“Customers hear the same familiar OnStar ‘voice’ whether they are sitting in their vehicle or calling on the phone and have reacted positively to experiences on calls without hold times,” GM said. “With the OnStar IVA successfully helping GM customers requesting navigation assistance, OnStar Advisors have been able to spend more time with customers with requests that require a human touch.”

GM users can activate the IVA to ask non-emergency related question by pressing the OnStar button, however the OEM said it also tries to distinguish words and phrases that indicate an emergency is underway. If it does, it routes the call to its emergency advisors.

The OEM’s incorporation of Dialogflow into its OnStar platform is being recognized with a “talent transformation” during an upcoming Google Cloud event.

“General Motors is at the forefront of deploying AI in practical and effective ways that ultimately create better customer experiences,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud. “We’re looking forward to a deepened relationship and more collaboration with GM as we explore how the company uses generative AI in transformational ways.”

Other automakers are also working to improve their voice-based technologies.

In June, Mercedes-Benz announced that it would integrate ChatGPT into the voice control of its systems, with its optional beta program now available to more than 900,000 vehicles throughout the U.S.

Mercedes said ChatGPT will help make its MBUX Voice Assistant more intuitive by leveraging “a large language model to greatly improve natural language understanding and expand the topics to which it can respond.”


Featured image: An OnStar-equipped rearview mirror is shown. (Provided by General Motors/© General Motors)

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