General Motors to use Google AI chatbot for its OnStar service

General Motors has found a new way to get in on the generative AI buzz. The automaker is now using Google Cloud's conversational chatbot, dubbed Dialogflow, to handle some non-emergency OnStar features.

GM announced the collaboration alongside a keynote from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai at the Google Cloud Next 23 event Tuesday.

OnStar, GM's in-car concierge, has been powered by intent-recognition algorithms that use Google Cloud's conversational AI since launch in 2022. Today's advancements allow it to provide drivers with responses to common queries like routing and navigation assistance.

The move to up-skill OnStar's capabilities is in line with GM's greater vision to build a $25 billion subscription business by 2030.

“Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize the buying, ownership and interaction experience inside the vehicle and beyond, enabling more opportunities to deliver new features and services,” said Mike Abbott, executive vice president of software and services at GM. “Our software-led approach has accelerated the creation of compelling services for our customers while driving increased efficiency across the GM enterprise. The work with Google Cloud is another example of our efforts to transform how customers engage with our products and services.”

Since 2019, GM has been building new vehicles with Google built-in, meaning the cars are built with Google Assistant, Maps and Play, accessible directly from the vehicles' infotainment systems. In April, the automaker said it would phase out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow drivers to mirror their smartphone screens in the vehicle's dashboard display, in favor of Google built-in. 

GM says that with the help of Dialogflow, its OnStar virtual assistant is now fielding more than 1 million customer inquiries per month in the U.S. and Canada. The service is available in most model year 2015 and newer GM vehicles. 

The chatbot has helped OnStar better understand a customer's request the first time it's spoken and can respond with a "modern, natural sounding voice," according to GM.

Aside from routing and turn-by-turn directions, OnStar's chatbot can help with simple questions from the non-emergency OnStar blue button in GM vehicles. GM says the chatbot can also catch phrases and words that may signify an emergency situation and quickly route the call to a human advisor.

Dialogflow can also answer customer questions about GM vehicles and product features based on technical information from the automaker's vehicle data caches. Customers can ask the bot about GM's new 2024 EV lineup or how to use new tech features in their vehicles.

Read more about Google Cloud Next 2023 on TechCrunch
Read more about Google Cloud Next 2023 on TechCrunch