As our cars become more like two-ton devices on wheels, auto shows are adjusting their scope to include apps, AI, connected cars, and more. That’s why the Los Angeles Auto Show held Automobility, a pre-opening tech showcase. Below, the most fascinating things there:
Hyundai Blue Link + Alexa
Hyundai showed off Blue Link, an app that allowed owners to unlock and start their cars via smartphone, in 2011. The second generation of Blue Link rolled out in 2014, adding smart watches to the app’s repertoire. Now the service works with Amazon’s Alexa in-home AI device.
Amazon launched the Echo skill kit last year so that developers could integrate their products—including entire vehicles—with the AI system. Shortly thereafter Hyundai became the first major automotive manufacturer to work with Alexa. You can ask Alexa to start your car and warm it up on a cold morning (or cool it off on a hot morning) with a command and a PIN.
Alexa works with any Hyundai with the second generation of Blue Link. Going forward, it will work with all Hyundai’s electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, letting users start and stop charging remotely—without even unlocking your phone.
On-demand ride hailing has become nearly ubiquitous, thanks to companies like Uber and Lyft. Now YourMechanic, one of the LA Auto Show’s top 10 automotive technology startups, is bringing on-demand mechanics to your driveway.
The app allows you to get quotes and book services 24/7, and the mechanics will arrive at your home or office—even on evenings and weekends. The list of repairs is extensive, with more than 500 services to choose from. The basics, like changing the oil or replacing the battery, are covered; so are more involved services, like replacing the axle and CV shaft or replacing a faulty power window switch.
But you don’t need to be a mechanic yourself to book the right service. There are dozens of “inspections” available with descriptions like “Car has bouncy and unstable ride,” “Grinding noise when braking,” and “Temperature warning light is on.” YourMechanic doesn’t expect you to know what’s wrong. That’s their job.
YourMechanic has user-rated mechanics in more than 700 cities right now (mostly metropolitan areas with suburbs), and more are coming soon.
This one is for the fleet managers—emergency services, construction crews, city vehicles, and more. HAAS Alert, another of the top ten startups at the show, is like GPS navigation on steroids, with a dose of connected-car smarts. And it works with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
First, the app lets your fleet drivers know when there are incidents on their planned routes. Whether that’s a fire, an accident, or a construction project, the system will reroute your drivers around the problem.
Because HAAS Alert users are often themselves responding to an incident, the system also works the other way. It lets motorists know when your fleet is in the field working. Emergency crews cleaning up a burst water pipe or construction crews on a job site can alert motorists of delays or lane closures and reroute those drivers.