June 11, 2019 / 6:44 AM / 2 months ago

Alibaba's smart speaker to feature in Audi, Renault, Honda cars

FILE PHOTO: A sign of Alibaba Group is seen at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Tuesday said its voice-controlled assistant will feature in local vehicles from Audi AG, Renault SA and Honda Motor Co Ltd, as the tech giant expands in artificial intelligence.

The Tmall Genie Auto smart speaker will allow drivers to use voice commands to, for instance, place orders on Alibaba’s online retail platform and buy movie tickets, Alibaba said at the CES Asia 2019 technology trade show in Shanghai.

In the near future, the speaker will also allow drivers to monitor and control smart devices at houses equipped with a Tmall Genie-compatible device, Alibaba said in a joint statement with the three automakers, without specifying vehicle models.

“We are thrilled to partner with global, distinguished auto brands such as Audi, Renault and Honda,” said Miffy Chen, general manager at Alibaba AI Labs. “Together, we can greatly enhance our in-car services and make driving experiences more intelligent and interconnected.”

The Tmall Genie is akin to Amazon.com Inc’s Echo. Alibaba launched the device in 2017 and released an auto version in April last year. Other automakers that have said they will install the device in their vehicles include BMW and Volvo Cars.

Amazon also has a vehicle version of its Echo, dubbed the Echo Auto, which it announced in September.

Reporting by Brenda Goh and Josh Horwitz; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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