Are Virtual Assistants in Vehicles a Good or Bad Idea

August 18th, 2017 by

University Mitsubishi Virtual Assistant

Back when we wrote about all the cool technology and coming up in the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, we were pretty psyched. Although a lot of the technology in the video is far off, such as virtual assistants popping up on the dashboard of a car, we know Mitsubishi is serious about making their vehicles not only user-friendly, but also self-driving one day. It does make one think though – will virtual assistants in vehicles be a good idea, and will they help or hurt us in moving forward?

Take another look at the video below.

The Virtual Assistants of Today

Before discussing whether or not a virtual assistant like the one demonstrated in the video is a good idea, let’s look at those we already use.

Bluetooth Voice Command – Is this not a type of virtual assist technology? After pairing a smartphone with our vehicles, if Bluetooth with Voice Command has been integrated, we can make phone calls, read and respond to texts, and stream music simply by telling our car to do so.

Infotainment Systems, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto – Just like Bluetooth with voice command, we can use Android Auto and certain Infotainment systems to navigate our way around town. We can also use Apple CarPlay to organize or access apps using our voice.

Siri, Allo, Alexa – To name a few, those are the top three virtual assistants we have today and probably take for granted. Siri has been around on iPhones for awhile now, Amazon’s Alexa came out not too long ago, and the most recent is Google’s Allo.

All of the above systems help make our life easier. Not only that, but when it comes to such technology in a car, it helps people keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. All it takes is some responsibility as to when to make a call or put in one’s next destination i.e. it might be wise to make that call after getting off the exit ramp and not during the corkscrew of doom.

How Can Virtual Assistants Hurt?

Just because the virtual assistants we have today are helpful, doesn’t mean they can’t be harmful. For one, people are so used to being plugged in today that they’ve grown up with short attention spans. By making all of this technology, handheld and voice-activated available to someone in a car, we’re only opening the possibility for an incident to occur.

Like everything, there’s the good side and the bad side. There’s no real way we can control how people use the technology in their vehicles, nor whether they do so responsibly. Just because we have Bluetooth with voice command or infotainment systems that work via voice command doesn’t mean people won’t fiddle with the controls while on the road. Plus, with how confusing some infotainment systems may be, trying to navigate the various menus is about the same as opening and reading a text on one’s phone. The driver’s eyes and their attention is no longer on the road.

It all comes down to being responsible and using helpful technology when it’s reasonable, and not just able. Now, if we get self-driving vehicles with assistants like in the video above, such incidents may not occur at all. Of course, just like automatic safety technology, even with a self-driving vehicle, the driver should not rely on the vehicle to avoid and mitigate an incident. Such technology does not subtract driver responsibility from the equation.

Can you think of other virtual assistant you use daily, whether at home or on the road? Do you think these make life better or can they be more dangerous than we think? Share your thoughts with us on social media.

Photo Source/Copyright: Mitsubishi/Mitsubishi Connect