European car manufacturer Skoda will be adding a virtual assistant to its vehicles, which will be accessible through vocal commands, according to a report by CNBC.
The Czech carmaker said the assistant will be activated by saying, “Okay, Laura.”
The proposed system will support a total of six languages and will do things like navigate routes and control the radio. The first iterations of the assistant will be available in the Kamiq city SUV and the smaller Scala.
Skoda, which was launched in 1991 as an offshoot of the Volkswagen group, delivered about 1.25 million cars around the world last year.
Other car companies have also been experimenting with adding voice-activated virtual assistants. BMW has added an “intelligent personal assistant” to some of its cars, which can be activated by saying, “Hello, BMW,” to help with everything from temperature controls to tire pressure information.
“Voice is the ideal interaction tool in the vehicle,” said Jack Palmer, a senior connected car specialist at SBD Automotive. “If the lion’s share of commands from the driver can be inputted through virtual assistants rather than fiddling around with touchscreens and buttons, the current epidemic of driver distraction will be greatly mitigated. Automakers have realized this, and the race is on for them to integrate their own solutions or partner with consumer electronics companies such as Google and Amazon.”
The moves show how people changing how they interact with their vehicles. Hannah Keshishian, an automotive analyst at market intelligence firm Mintel, said that almost 40 percent of drivers in the United States “would like to use a digital personal assistant in their vehicle.” Those stats indicate the viability of the technology, she said, which “opens the door to greater possibilities for digital assistant vehicle connectivity.”