And now I see what may have attracted Tim Cook to the South Korean carmaker in the first place.
Hyundai named the cute little robot DAL-e. But never mind the shameless Disney/Pixar reference, because that automaton has been programmed for one single task: to sell you a car.
It’s an amoral, undaunted margin machine whose blank expression can only ask, “Excuse me, but before we proceed can I get you to sign this purchase agreement?”
Hyundai says the name DAL-e is an acronym that stands for Drive you, Assist you, Link with you-experience. But I don’t know. It reads a bit contrived. In any case, the impetus for the robot salesman is pandemic-related, and Hyundai said it was designed to provide a friendly and informative point of contact for buyers who might be concerned about contracting COVID-19.
The South Korean carmaker described the robot as follows:
It is accoutered with friendly, emotive physical features for close interactions with customers. In the event that a customer enters the showroom without wearing a mask, the android recognizes it and advises the customer to wear one. In terms of its communication capability, it can engage in an automated and smooth dialogue with customers by providing useful information on products and services and responding to verbal and screen touch commands.
But more than just a precaution during the pandemic, the robot can read human expressions, Hyundai says, and it is even outfitted with artificial intelligence and a language comprehension platform. My immediate concerns are about whether the high-tech robot is a really pushy salesman and whether it can take no for an answer. I suppose it would have more of a legitimate excuse than its organic counterparts.
Still, nagging salesmen stopped me from going to dealerships way before the pandemic ever did.
Overall, I think I’m a fan of the little ’bot. Though I would be afraid to anger it because it gives me strong R.O.B. vibes, and I don’t need that kind of heat. Hyundai says that DAL-e will make its way to Hyundai and Kia showrooms, so I might actually be excited to walk into either of those dealers now.