A Google-powered chatbot is handling GM’s non-emergency OnStar calls

In crisis situations, GM says the voice assistant can quickly forward calls to human specialists.


General Motors is taking Google’s AI chatbot on the road. The automaker announced today that it’s using Google Cloud’s Dialogflow to automate some non-emergency OnStar features like navigation and call routing. Crucially, the automaker claims the bot can pinpoint keywords indicating an emergency situation and “quickly route the call” to trained humans when needed. GM says the system frees up OnStar Advisors to spend more time with customers requiring a live human.

According to GM, the OnStar Interactive Virtual Assistant (IVA) has used Google Cloud’s Dialogflow under the hood since IVA’s 2022 launch. The virtual voice assistant can handle common customer questions and help with routing and navigation, including turn-by-turn directions. The companies see the collaboration as expanding down the road. “The successful deployment of Google Cloud’s AI in GM’s OnStar service has now opened the door to future generative AI deployments being jointly piloted by General Motors and Google Cloud,” the companies wrote in a joint press release.

The automaker says Google Cloud’s AI has allowed OnStar to better understand customer requests on the first try. In addition, it says customers have reacted positively to avoiding hold times as they can quickly begin chatting with an AI-powered bot with a “modern, natural sounding voice.” GM says the virtual assistant now handles over one million customer inquiries per month in the US and Canada. OnStar IVA is available in most GM vehicles, 2015 and newer, with OnStar connections.

GM has also reportedly worked on developing a ChatGPT-powered assistant for its vehicles, although it isn’t yet clear if that project is still on the table.

“Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize the buying, ownership, and interaction experience inside the vehicle and beyond, enabling more opportunities to deliver new features and services,” Mike Abbott, GM’s executive vice president of software and services, wrote in the press release. “Our software-led approach has accelerated the creation of compelling services for our customers while driving increased efficiency across the GM enterprise. The work with Google Cloud is another example of our efforts to transform how customers engage with our products and services.”

The companies also announced today that Google’s Dialogflow tech is behind chatbots on the GM website, similar to the slew of OpenAI-powered assistants that began popping up since the launch of the ChatGPT API earlier this year. GM’s web bots can “conversationally help answer customer questions about GM vehicles and product features based on the technical information from GM’s extensive vehicle data repositories,” according to the automaker.

“General Motors is at the forefront of deploying AI in practical and effective ways that ultimately create better customer experiences,” Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud CEO, wrote today. “We’re looking forward to a deepened relationship and more collaboration with GM as we explore how the company uses generative AI in transformational ways.”