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Feature slated for Android phones in the U.S. this year
Google announced plans to roll out a voice command component designed for car rental apps to enable users to book a vehicle simply by chatting with a virtual assistant feature. The company revealed the technology May 7 at Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters via a live demonstration on a National Car Rental website.
However, the feature’s applications will extend beyond getting an edge in the car rental industry. The bigger picture will see the voice command technology add more artificial intelligence elements into Google Assistant, the virtual helper developed by the high-tech company.
Once the virtual helper gets a verbal command from the user to book a vehicle from a particular car rental, the feature then goes through the process. If the user has already indicated a time, date and destination on Google calendar and has an email confirmation of an air ticket in an inbox, the available information makes booking faster and simpler.
Google Assistant can also fill remaining fields of the user on the car rental company website, including vehicle preference. Any blanks remaining can be filled when Google Assistant asks users for selections need to complete the process, after which a booking reference email with a confirmation number pops up in the unbox.
“It’s amazing to see the Assistant complete a task online, on your behalf, in a personalized way,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the event. “This was not a custom integration. This required no action on behalf of the business to implement.”
The demonstration was an extension of the capabilities of Google Assistant, first introduced in 2018 as part of the company’s Duplex service, originally designed to make restaurant appointments. Modifications in Duplex, showcased in front of more than 7,000 software developers attending the May event confirmed not only its prowess in booking a rental, but also ordering movie tickets online via a voice prompt.
The timing of the event was also curious to investors pointing out that shares in Alphabet, Google’s parent company since 2015, have gone down considerably. While costs have risen steadily, those expected revenues from the last quarter were roughly $1 billion below what was predicted. Those with considerable interest in Google likely eyed the demonstration as a way of how the company can monetize its recent innovations involving artificial intelligence.
Undeterred, Google plans to make the rental car booking feature available in the U.K. and the U.S. later this year.
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