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Driving Innovation: How AI is Revolutionizing the Automotive User Experience

Photo by SCREEN POST / Unsplash

The automotive industry is ripe for a strategic fusion of AI and user-centered design.

The automotive industry is about to shift gears, powered by AI, which is transforming how we design, build, and interact with cars. Imagine smarter, safer vehicles that personalize your driving experience and even predict hazards. Buckle up, the future of driving is here! 

At CES, Volkswagen announced an embedded ChatGPT feature. Powered by a new version of Cerence's Chat Pro that leverages an LLM from Open AI, this will roll out to vehicles in Europe in Q2. From personalized driving experiences to predictive maintenance and even autonomous vehicles, AI is introducing a new era of intelligence into the automotive landscape.

In partnership with SBD Automotive, our recent report, The AI Future of Automotive: Consumers and the Conversational Car, explores the user experience of participants as they attempt different automotive use cases through both AI and conventional web searches. For this study, we had users record video of their browser screens in addition to answering survey questions. 

AI-powered Intelligent Voice Assistants for Automotive

We asked 78 AI users to attempt four different tasks via web or mobile app, and then to try them again using either ChatGPT-4 or Bard. User feedback revealed a generally positive sentiment towards LLMs across all use cases. Notably, tasks that were high urgency, like pairing Bluetooth devices or troubleshooting a dashboard light yielded even higher satisfaction ratings. This indicates that AI can enhance intelligent voice assistants by providing more robust, timely responses to urgent issues than a conventional voice assistant or search on a phone app.

User Experience: In Their Own Words

Because of the video collected in our research, we get rich feedback from users describing how they felt, which brings their experiences to life. These three examples show experiences that users had while trying to find automotive information using AI platforms.

It tells me what needs to be done and suggests additional commands.

A ChatGPT user appreciated the step-by-step instructions along with the additional commands that they could use.

—Daisy, Millennial, GMC Yukon

Interested in capturing rich, actionable video insights from your drivers and app users? Contact us.

Users favor AI for its immediate and efficient help, particularly in time-sensitive situations. They appreciate not just the speed of AI responses but also its ability to deliver concise information that doesn't overwhelm them. Watch to see how users value how AI simplifies the process without unnecessary complexity.

I hate just searching and searching. Bard is great!

This user appreciated the ability to follow-up, clarify and consider other drafts.

—Sharon, Gen X, Volkswagen Tiguan

This preference for immediacy reflects a desire for a hassle-free experience. As the automotive industry integrates AI further, understanding this preference is crucial. By focusing on quick, actionable solutions that have minimal cognitive load on users, OEMs and automotive app builders can maximize user satisfaction and make AI-powered features indispensable tools for drivers.

It is very clear, I love it!

This user liked the way that Bard presented the info in the form of a table.

—Abhinav, Millennial, Tesla X

Tip: Meld your vehicle data with AI to personalize features. Imagine the possibilities: Routes that adapt to users, music that matches moods, and predictive service notifications. AI-powered cars learn about their drivers, building trust and loyalty on the road.

The Road Ahead for AI in Intelligent Voice Assistants

The automotive industry is undergoing a significant transformation because of AI. This technology is empowering both users as well as OEMs by giving access to immediate, accurate, and efficient information. As AI takes its place as the go-to source of information and guidance, a multitude of opportunities and challenges arise. By analyzing user feedback and data insights, we can look at a better user experience for drivers. The three key principles to consider:

  1. Personalized User Experiences: AI virtual assistants must move beyond generic responses, evolving into tailored companions that cater to individual preferences, driving habits, and specific vehicle data. This personalized approach could involve an AI recommending the optimal route while factoring in known scenic preferences or suggesting maintenance options based on real-time vehicle diagnostics.

  1. Transparency and Trustworthiness: Building trust is essential. To establish confidence in AI-enhanced intelligent voice assistants, provide transparent information sourcing and clear communication regarding capabilities and limitations. Users want to understand the rationale behind the information provided, and this can foster a sense of collaborative decision-making rather than passive reliance.

  1. Collaborative Innovation: Unlocking the full potential of AI virtual assistants for automotive use requires a collective effort. AI companies, OEMs, UX designers and researchers, and product managers must collaborate, fostering an ecosystem where diverse perspectives converge to design intuitive and user-centric experiences.

Prioritizing these principles – personalization, transparency, and collaboration – will be crucial in ensuring that AI seamlessly integrates into the driving experience. By focusing on designing for minimal cognitive load, task efficiency, and seamless user journeys, your product team including designers, UX researchers and product managers can play a pivotal role in shaping AI virtual assistants that pave the way for a future of collaborative human-machine partnerships on the road.

Pulse Labs offers a suite of tools specifically designed to help you gather user insights and continually refine and build best-in-class technology. Our tools empower faster decision making with high-quality video data and deep insights that allow you to anticipate user needs and deliver exceptional experiences.


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