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Amazon Alexa Custom Assistant headed to FCA cars first

The Alexa Custom Assistant will coexist with FCA's own voice assistant, and the new technology will let other carmakers do specific things with the tech.

Amazon Alexa
Alexa grows smarter for the car.

Amazon Alexa built into vehicles isn't new, but Alexa Custom Assistant sure is. On Friday, Amazon and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced the new technology will head to the carmaker first as the tech and retail giant opens up its popular voice assistant to greater flexibility to outside companies.

Alexa Custom Assistant is different from standard Alexa capabilities in the way automakers can take the technology and build their own platform from it. In FCA's case, Alexa will live alongside its own proprietary in-car voice assistant. If a driver asks a command vehicle related, the FCA assistant will handle the job. If they want to know about the weather, control smart home devices or change media in the car, Alexa will handle the tasks.

For Amazon, it thinks the custom asset will let automakers build platforms more efficiently and with cost savings. It's sort of the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto argument; why create your own user interface and infotainment system when the masses already enjoy iOS or Android. There's a similar argument for how well Alexa works at home, so Amazon bets automakers will expand its use in the cars. So far, they're right, with FCA totally onboard.

FCA and Amazon said advanced artificial intelligence will hand off a task seamlessly to whichever assistant is best suited for the request. That'll be something we need to test because it sounds like it could get a tad frustrating. If it works well, though, then I'm happy to have more simplicity when it comes to voice controls.

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