Artificial Intelligence

Alibaba Puts Smart Assistant Behind The Wheel Of Benz And Audis In China

Alibaba’s smart assistant has found a home in Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volvo automobiles in China.

According to Bloomberg, the automakers join around 100 brands with which Alibaba has partnered.

Since the product release last July, the company has sold more than two million of its smart speakers featuring Tmall Genie, a digital assistant that offers voice-controlled services (in Mandarin, of course) such as music streaming, newscasts and calendar booking.

The speaker also allows its users to purchase products from Alibaba’s shopping platforms, Taobao and Tmall.

China is currently the world’s biggest auto market, with Mercedes, Audis and Volvos among the country’s most popular luxury vehicles.

Among other tasks, drivers will be able to connect with Tmall Genie or their smart speakers at home to check that doors and windows are closed and locked and that vehicle parts, such as the battery, are in good working condition. Drivers can also complete in-car tasks, such as turning on the air conditioning or planning a driving route.

In addition, the company’s A.I. Labs is working on further integrating the AliGenie platform into vehicles’ operating software.

“Identifying how to serve car users with Tmall Genie’s skill sets is one of our top priorities,” Lijuan Chen, head of Alibaba A.I. Labs, said in an emailed statement.

And while its smart speaker is competing with rival Amazon’s Alexa, Alibaba’s CEO is quick to point out the differences between the two eCommerce giants.

“Amazon is more like an empire – everything they control themselves, buy and sell,” said Jack Ma. “Our philosophy is to empower others to sell, empower others to service, making sure the other people are more powerful than us. With our technology, our innovation, our partners — 10 million small business sellers — they can compete with Microsoft and IBM. Our philosophy is, using internet technology we can make every company become Amazon.”

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