So, this is how it begins. We were warned way back in 1984 when Skynet was introduced to movie-going audiences and then Sarah and John Connor, along with Kyle Reese, had to save the world. Okay, maybe we are being a tad bit melodramatic here but the robots are coming and they are here to stay. South Korean automaking giant Hyundai has just introduced DAL-e, their new customer service robot that is intended to help car buyers with their purchase of a new vehicle.
DAL-e debuted in South Korea earlier this week as more and more customers are leaning toward contact-free auto purchases. The DAL-e was brought online by Hyundai with the goal of keeping some semblance of personal interaction.
Dong Jin Hyun, head of the robotics lab at Hyundai Motor Group, said via CNet, “Our objective is to enable the DAL-e to engage in a smooth and entertaining communication with customers and present valuable services to them.” While Hyundai has yet to provide any video of DAL-e in action, they do list what DAL-e can accomplish. The robot can engage with potential buyers in smooth dialog when presenting vehicle information, it can guide shoppers to the correct area of the dealership, and DAL-e includes its very own personal touchscreen that can present any information requested. The robot also connects to a large screen housed inside the dealership which allows DAL-e to beam the requested information to the large screen so it can be better seen. And like in an amusement park, DAL-e will even take its picture with you and promote it proudly on the big screen for all to see. Hyundai’s intention with the introduction of DAL-e is for the experience to be both entertaining and informative…and to sell cars.
In this day and age of pandemic-safety, DAL-e also has one more trick up its sleeve. A gently reminded rule, mask up when you enter the dealership. DAL-e will be on hand to “advise customers to wear one,” so says the automaker. Nothing wrong with a friendly robot “advising” customers to mask up upon entering the establishment. Now, if DAL-e were to include “and if you don’t” then the T-101 may not be far behind.
Hyundai’s venture into robotics is a fairly new passion as it only recently purchased a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics. If you recall, Boston Dynamics is the company that produced Spot the robot dog, one of the most advanced robots of our time. The cost to Hyundai to purchase an 80% stake in Boston Dynamics was a cool $921 million which took the value of the company to over $1.1 billion. Their goal in the Boston Dynamics deal was “advancing robotics and mobility to realize progress for humanity,” and Hyundai also “envisions the transformation of human life” with the Boston Dynamic robots combined with Hyundai’s mobility expertise.
At the present time, there is no word on if DAL-e will make a U.S. appearance and if so, when. Hyundai does plan on continuing to further update and expand the reach of DAL-e well beyond the trial phase it finds itself. One just wonders, will the programmers of DAL-e make them as pushy as a real car salesperson?