Alibaba partners with automakers to add Tmall Genie tech to cars

2 min read
(Image credit: Alibaba Group)

Alibaba AI Labs, Alibaba Group’s AI research division, is partnering with automakers including Audi, Renault, and Honda to integrate its Tmall Genie Auto into certain models sold in China, the company announced at CES Asia in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Tmall Genie Auto, an artificial intelligence solution developed by Alibaba AI Labs, will offer a variety of voice-controlled information and services. The in-vehicle assistant will help drivers to identify nearby attractions and restaurants, book movie tickets, check the status of package deliveries, read children’s books, and order items on Alibaba’s retail platform.

In addition, car owners with a Tmall Genie-compatible devices, such as the Tmall Genie speaker and Tmall Genie mirror, will be able to monitor and control smart-home devices from their cars in the near future, according to the company. Drivers will be able to check on the temperature and lights, or turn on the heater and air conditioning at home from their vehicles.

“By providing AI technologies, including speech-recognition and Natural Language Processing, Tmall Genie Auto enables car users to access an extensive in-car infotainment portfolio by tapping into Alibaba’s rich content and service ecosystem,” said Miffy Chen, General Manager at Alibaba A.I. Labs said in an emailed statement.

Partnership with Alibaba will help Audi to offer more localized in-car voice assistant services to their Chinese customers, according to H.W. Vassen, senior director of Digitalization and NEV Development at Audi China.

The current deals are just the latest involving of Tmall Genie’s integration with automobiles. Since the launch of Tmall Genie Auto solution last April, Alibaba A.I. Labs has also partnered with auto brands including BMW and Volvo Cars.

Connected car technology uptake is expanding rapidly in China, with market growth expected to reach double digits from 2018 to 2023, according to data from market intelligence firm Netscribes. Compared with price or engine performance, Chinese consumers are increasingly emphasizing in-car technology when it comes to buying cars, and 40% are willing to change brands for better connectivity, according to the report.

Tech giants are quickly adapting to the changes in customer preferences. In addition to Alibaba, Baidu has its in-car operating system DuerOS and Tencent launched its TAI Smart Car System last year. In line with the trend, Tencent and Alibaba are developing in-vehicle versions for their respective WeChat and DingTalk platforms, popular instant massaging tools for personal and professional communications in China.