Artificial intelligence will figure out who you want to talk to.
Amazon Alexa has already made its way into a lot of vehicles, but Fiat Chrysler is the first automaker to sign up to use Alexa Custom Assistant, Amazon's new AI-based technology. On Friday, the two companies announced that Alexa Custom Assistant will work alongside FCA's proprietary in-car voice assistant to offer an integrated experience. Using AI, the system will figure out if you are making a vehicle-related command for the FCA's Uconnect assistant to deal with, or if Alexa should deal with media control, handle smart home devices, or remind you to pick up the kids later.
In theory, this solves the issues of proprietary infotainment software fighting with systems that customers already enjoy and already carry around in their pocket. Now, drivers won't need to remember two wakeup phrases to access two different systems. Amazon claims, "this allows the brand's assistant to act as the product specialist, while Alexa is still available to help with everyday needs."
The company also says that it will help automakers reduce the "cost, complexity, and time to market" of new infotainment systems. And the best part? FCA won't charge for it the way some other automakers do for similar features.
Automakers will also be able to set the system up to use custom wake-up words, voices, and capabilities. This will allow different brands to inflect their personalities into the systems and create full experiences relative to their vehicles. What we're hoping is that you get a different voice for, say, a Jeep Wrangler over a Chrysler 300 or a Maserati. As it stands, FCA says the planning process for the integration of the Alexa Custom Assistant in future models is already underway.
Amazon also mentioned that Alexa is making its way into Lamborghini and Rivian vehicles and control basic functions like the windows and climate control as well as media and phone calls. That sounds like Alexa Custom Assistant, but Amazon hasn't revealed if those brands are actually using the new product yet.