Ford Debuts Voice Commands In-Car

Ford is adding a voice-activated assistant to its SYNC 3 infotainment system, providing navigation guidance to drivers via their own voice commands.

According to news from TechCrunch, the new voice-activated driving assistant is from Sygic and will be called “Driving Assistant.” It works with Sygic’s GPS navigation app. According to the company, the voice assistant is a “voice-controlled co-driver that helps the driver identify nearby rest stops, restaurants, hotels” and other destinations. All drivers have to do is tap a button on their steering wheel to get the assistant to work. Driving Assistant is available in 24 languages; the voice activation system allows drivers to ask for information on traffic along their route, parking advice, gas prices nearby and directions to specific locations. It can even make changes to a route via voice command, noted TechCrunch.

This isn’t the only high-tech move Ford has been making in recent months. Aiming to boost sales of its vehicles — and not only in the U.S. — in December, the company teamed up with Alibaba to hawk its cars at Tmall, Alibaba’s retail unit, via an auto vending machine Alibaba is developing. 

The deal gives Ford a way to increase its growth and position itself to be a leading player in the online marketplace for vehicles in China. Consumers are already comfortable buying cars over the internet there, with car makers in the past doing brisk business online in the country.

Ford could also sell its cars through the impending “Automotive Vending Machine,” in which Chinese consumers shop for new cars on their mobile devices and pick them up from a massive vertical vending machine. With the service, consumers who have good credit from Alibaba’s Sesame Credit will be required to put 10 percent down for their new vehicle and make monthly payments via its Alipay digital payment service.