BMW Introduces an In-Car Virtual Assistant – is MINI Next?

BMW has taken the wraps off it’s forthcoming in-car Virtual Assistant (think Siri for the car) that will allow for smarter (and quicker) access to in-car functionality. Powered by the car’s always-on connectivity the assistant is designed for future updates to be carried out over the air. Based on what we’re hearing this MINI will be getting something very similar in a future model upgrade.

Official Release: The BMW Group is set to revolutionise driving pleasure with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. From March 2019, BMW drivers and passengers will be joined by an intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW”. This will mark the start of a new era for the BMW Group in which drivers will increasingly be able to operate their car and access its functions and information simply by speaking. The personal assistant will also be able to assist the driver outside their vehicle, whether it’s at home with the help of a smart speaker or out and about via smartphone. What’s more, he will be compatible with other digital voice assistants beyond Amazon Alexa, too, providing a link to other rapidly growing ecosystems. The personal assistant’s capabilities are developing all the time courtesy of BMW’s Open Mobility Cloud and the use of artificial intelligence. The range of functions and skills available will be constantly expanded as part of regular updates, which can be carried out seamlessly on a smartphone and in-car by Remote Software Upgrade. “BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant teams up with the new BMW Operating System 7.0 to create a brand new, digital form of interaction with the customer’s BMW that redefines the whole driving experience,” says Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Products BMW Group.

In-Car Virtual Assistant

In-Car Virtual Assistant – BMWs acquire a digital personality.

BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant learns routines and habits, and is subsequently able to apply them in the appropriate context. He helps the driver, learns their preferences and is familiar with their favoured settings – e.g. for the seat heating or the places they drive to frequently using the navigation system (“Take me home”). One unique feature over other digital assistants is that drivers can give him a name (for example, “Charlie” or “Joy”) to lend him even greater individuality and personality. Not only does the Intelligent Personal Assistant await the driver’s every command, he is always there to assist them and even provide casual conversation (“Hey BMW, what’s the meaning of life?”). He is familiar with the vehicle’s functions and is able to operate them as required. Saying “Hey BMW, I’m cold” will prompt the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to adjust the temperature inside the car accordingly. The assistant will benefit from constant technical upgrades and be able to learn more and more preferences and favoured settings. The assistant takes further strides forward with every command given, every question asked and every setting made. Forming the basis for all of this will be the portable, digital customer profile – the BMW ID. This profile links the car to the customer and their digital world.

A constant companion: the digital BMW expert.

The arrival of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant ensures there is always a genuine BMW professional on board. He is able to explain all sorts of different functions (“How does the High Beam Assistant work?”), provide current status information (“Is the oil level okay?”) and help answer questions (“What warning messages do I have?”). He knows the driver’s favourite settings, and can even activate a combination of them to enhance well-being. For instance, “Hey BMW, I feel tired” triggers a vitality programme that adjusts the lighting mood, music and temperature, among other things, in order to make the driver feel more awake. In future, the assistant will also be able to give fuel-saving driving tips or think ahead and warn drivers as necessary. He could alert the driver to problems (“Tyre pressure is low”), for example, remind the driver of service appointments and even arrange an appointment.

In-Car Virtual Assistant – The perfect co-driver.

The Intelligent Personal Assistant is, in short, the ideal co-driver and comes in particularly useful during everyday driving (“Hey BMW, look for the nearest fuel station on our route”). To make navigation particularly easy, drivers can give him access to their calendar and contacts, which will enable him to find parking spaces at the destination, provide information on traffic jams along the route and remind the driver when they need to set off. He also learns destinations the customer drives to frequently. The assistant’s integration with Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business transforms the BMW into a mobile office, and allows him to join teleconferences at the driver’s request and read out emails. But BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant is an entertainment expert, too. So he can instantly identify the song currently playing on the radio and search stations for the desired type of music (“Play classical music please”).

Coming to BMW cars from March 2019.

The Intelligent Personal Assistant will be available in a basic version with voice control in 23 languages and markets from March 2019. In the USA, Germany, UK, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil, Japan and (from May 2019) China, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant will also feature more natural voice control along with further intelligent functions. The personal assistant will be offered for models featuring the new BMW Operating System 7.0 and as part of the Live Cockpit Professional (6U3). The scope of functions can be extended with the Connected Package Professional.

The personal assistant will be available to order for the new BMW 3 Series from November 2018 and will be included for three years. From March 2019, new BMW X5, Z4 and 8 Series models fitted with the BMW Operating System 7.0 will be able to install the full version of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant by Remote Software Upgrade without having to visit a dealer.