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Kia Motors partners with Google Cloud to bring motorists AI-based paperless car manuals

South Korean car manufacturer partners Google Cloud managed service provider Megazone to bring artificial intelligence-based app to market

Kia Motors wants to make the maintenance of its vehicles a paperless experience for customers, through the global roll-out of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based owner’s manual app built using Google Cloud technology.

The South Korean motor manufacturer aims to roll out the app sequentially across the world during the second half of 2020, starting with any new cars that are due for release during this time.

The app is designed to essentially replace the printed owner’s manual that comes with each Kia car by enabling users to find out information about how their vehicles work by pointing their smartphone camera at specific symbols dotted around the car’s interior.

This will prompt the app to retrieve and pull up relevant information and instructional videos that will show owners how the different parts of their cars work.

Kia partnered with Google Cloud managed service provider (MSP) Megazone to create the app, which uses the cloud giant’s own AI platform to recognise the symbols inside the car.

The company said it chose to use Google Cloud’s AI platform because of its ease of use, as it is designed to be accessible to developers with no previous experience in using AI and machine learning to build customised models that can be incorporated into new products and services.

It also equips the Kia app with capabilities to recognise new digital 3D model images from inside vehicles to bolster its knowledge and ensure the machine learning models underpinning it are constantly being optimised to provide an improved user experience.

In a statement, Kia said it decided to base the workings of the app on symbols to make it easier for the app to be used in all the countries where its cars are sold.

The project is not Kia’s first foray into using apps to streamline vehicle maintenance for customers; it brought to market an augmented reality app in 2017 that, by its own admission, saw limited take-up.

Read more about cloud and AI tech collaborations

Wide use of the app was limited as it required measuring all the layouts and switches for every new model,” said the company. “Therefore, Kia, Google and Megazone focused on recognising symbols on the switches, making the app compatible with any new models as symbols in vehicles are universal.”

Eui-sung Kim, vice-president and head of global dealer and service at Kia Motors, said: “The Kia Owner’s Manual App will offer a unique customer experience with our products. Kia drivers will be able to enhance the safety and convenience of ownership with the app, which provides easy and intuitive information on the various functions of their vehicle and our latest technologies.”

Ki-Young Choi, country director of Google Cloud Korea, said the company’s AI platform is already being used across the manufacturing industry to help automate quality control processes.

“The new AI-powered Digital Owner’s Manual is a great example of the kind of challenges AI can solve and how it can help enhance the customer experience,” he added.

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