Cars are among the most expensive purchases people make, and they are also one of the most complex machines a consumer can own, with multiple interwoven systems that all require regular maintenance. In a previous technological era, researching the particulars of vehicle upkeep required searching through a novel-length car-owners’ manual. However, even a thorough and easy-to-read manual will not have the most current information on maintenance protocols, upgrade options, or recalls, and it certainly will not assist owners with ordering replacement parts or scheduling repairs. Fortunately, an industry-leading cognitive agent like Amelia can assist drivers — from everyday car owners to experienced mechanics — with up-to-date insights into their vehicles.

A Personal and Always-Available Digital Mechanic

A good mechanic possesses a combination of technical proficiency and an ability to translate complex mechanical concepts for the lay user. This feature-set is where cognitive agents can be particularly useful.

Amelia offers an industry leading Natural Language Interface (NLI), which allows users to converse with her just as they would with a human mechanic. Unlike a human mechanic, digital colleagues are accessible 24/7 across multiple channels and always up-to-date on the latest vehicle information.

Amelia’s intent engine allows her to discern needs from a wide spectrum of human inputs, so she can communicate with all users, regardless of their proficiency in auto technology or terminology. For example, Amelia would be able to distinguish intent from an owner asking, “What do I do when my temperature warning indicator on the dashboard is lit?” or “The dashboard light that looks like a flag floating in the ocean is on, what do I do?” Amelia can even independently generate clarifying questions, e.g., “Just to confirm, it is the light in the top-right of your dashboard?” or, if the channel has a visual component, she can provide a visual confirmation.

Once the problem has been identified and confirmed, the digital mechanic could then lead the user step-by-step through the relevant maintenance processes. However, Amelia is more than a voice-activated digital manual index; she has been designed to converse with users on a human level. Unlike a static chatbot or web form, Amelia’s context switching functionality allows users to “jump around” within the process, meaning they can ask questions at any point, or go back and change an answer, just as one might do with a human agent. For example, a user could say, “Actually, the indicator light I’m talking about is in the top-left, not the top-right,” and Amelia would react in a dynamic fashion.

Artificial Intelligence, Real Benefits

Amelia has the ability to securely integrate with external databases and systems to discover relevant information. In instances where the manufacturer opens such access to Amelia, she could automatically analyze vehicle issues by tapping internal sensors and digital systems, following Standard Operating Procedures to diagnose any problem.

If Amelia is not able to successfully answer the user’s question or resolve the issue, she can escalate the session to a human agent for expert resolution. Amelia can expedite the session by packaging and sending all relevant information to the human agent including vehicle history, make and model, description of the issue and attempted fixes. Amelia can then silently observe how the human agent resolves the issue, and add this new information to her knowledge base.

In the event that further intervention is required, Amelia can assist a car owner with scheduling an appointment with a local mechanic or dealership, or assist with ordering replacement parts or service upgrades.

We’ve detailed how Amelia can optimize the car-buying process, and post-car sales communications. When Amelia is brought on as a digital mechanic, she could optimize the consumer journey throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle. This automation can benefit users with increased access to information and services. Meanwhile, manufacturers and dealerships could reduce service overhead, achieve higher Net Promoter Scores, and receive proactive alerts about production issues, e.g., a higher-than-average reporting of errant indicator lights for a certain make and model.

Automotive technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, which can make up-keep a complicated endeavor. Fortunately, cognitive AI technologies are evolving just as fast to help guide car owners through an increasingly complex landscape.

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