Amazon is really beefing up the capabilities of its chatty AI assistant Alexa. The voice-activated assistant, which launched alongside the first-generation Amazon Echo smart speaker back in September 2016, started out life as a handy way to set reminders, cooking timers, answer a few general knowledge queries, and find out the latest news and weather updates.
But the latest update, announced at CES 2020, is possibly the most impressive upgrade to date. Amazon has teamed-up with ExxonMobil and Fiserv to enable drivers to pay for petrol from inside their vehicles using Alexa on their smartphone or built-in infotainment system.
Drivers will only need to say “Alexa, pay for gas” to get the process started. The AI assistant will then confirm both the petrol station and pump number with you. After that, Alexa will use the details saved with your Amazon Pay account to cover the purchase. And that’s it – you can drive away.
If you pull into a petrol station with an attendant to top-up the car for you, then you’ll never have to leave the comfort of your vehicle. That’s something that is likely going to appeal to plenty of drivers, especially when the weather is grim.
Amazon hasn’t confirmed an exact release date for the feature, but says we can expect to see it roll-out this year. Unfortunately, the online retail firm has yet to announce any partnerships with petrol stations in the UK, so expect this one to be US-only for the time being.
Given that it took the original Amazon Echo two years to travel across the Atlantic and launch in Europe, don’t hold your breath for a European announcement anytime soon.
In the US, drivers will be able to use the feature at some 11,500 petrol stations – or rather, gas stations.