Hyundai's DAL-e robot assistant may be working at your local dealership soon

The days of being greeted by an actual human at your local dealership may one day be a thing of the past if Hyundai Motor Group’s new DAL-e robot assistant is any indication.

Unveiled on Monday at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul, South Korea, the DAL-e, short for “Drive you, Assist you, Link with you-experience,” is an AI-powered robot able to greet a customer and respond to basic questions. It features a touchscreen display, as well as facial recognition and language processing technologies.

The DAL-e stands a little over 45 inches tall and weighs just 176 pounds, making it relatively easy to integrate into an existing dealership. And since it doesn’t need to sleep, it can operate 24 hours a day if needed.

Hyundai Motor Group, which represents the Hyundai, Genesis and Kia brands, sees the DAL-e as being suitable for a wide range of industries, especially now that some customers may be reluctant to interact with human staff due to Covid-19 coronavirus concerns. The DAL-e also helps protects staff, as it is able to recognize if a customer isn’t wearing a mask and can advise them to put one on.

The DAL-e is being used at the Korean Hyundai dealership in a trial phase only. Hyundai Motor Group is gathering data from the trial in order to improve the robot’s capabilities.

“With continuous updates and improvements, the DAL-e will provide fresh, pleasant experiences to our valued customers in a contact-free environment,” Dong Jin Hyun, Hyundai Motor Group’s head of robotics, said in a statement. “Our objective is to enable the DAL-e to engage in a smooth and entertaining communication with customers and present valuable services to them.”

Hyundai Motor Group is spending up big in the area of robotics. Last August, the automaker invested $2 billion in a self-driving technology joint venture with automotive supplier Aptiv (formerly Delphi), and only last month it bought an 80% stake in robotics company Boston Dynamics for an estimated $900 million. Hyundai Motor Group is expected to utilize Boston Dynamics’ technology to increase automation at its plants.

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Hyundai Motor Group isn’t the only automaker exploring the potential of robots. Volkswagen Group last month showed a robot assistant that could automate charging of electric vehicles in garages and car parks. Honda has also been exploring robots for years, most famously with the ASIMO series of walking robots, the first of which was unveiled in 2000.

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