Kia Motors may not have self-driving cars, but through Google Assistant, the company is making its cars as hands-free as possible.
At CES 2018 today, Kia announced that drivers will be able to send remote commands to select Kia models through the Google Home smart speaker or Google Assistant app. Drivers with Kia’s UVO telematics system installed can use their Google device to start, stop or charge engines, flicker headlights, heat up or cool down the car, and lock doors.
“With more people using smart technology at home and work, it was a natural extension to bring this easy to use and widely adapted platform to the driver’s seat,” said Henry Bzeih, Kia’s director of car and mobility services, in a release.
Owners of Kia’s 2018 Niro PHEV, Soul EV, Optima PHEV, or K900 cars will have the first opportunity to play with this new integration. A simple command to your smartphone like “Tell UVO to lock my Niro” will secure your car from miles away.
With Google Assistant already available on over 400 million devices, the tech giant plans to use CES 2018 to show how the platform will expand even further. At its “Google Assistant Playground”, attendees can “check out some of our new integrations, devices, and newest ways you can use your Assistant."
By partnering with Kia, Google looks to leapfrog Amazon in the race to integrate with the automotive industry. Amazon incorporated Alexa functionality into some Ford cars in 2016, and recently announced it will bring the assistant to all BMW and Mini cars by mid-2018. But Kia’s new Google platform is ready today.
Google Assistant is already available for many 2016 and 2017 Hyundai models. Hyundai’s Google Assistant commands are almost identical to Kia’s: drivers can remotely lock or unlock doors, charge or activate engines, and adjust climate control.
So it’s conceivable that Google is ready to roll out a similar platform to any other auto company that wants to jump on Google’s rapidly growing bandwagon.
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Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.