Hyundai's new robot provides customer service on showroom floors

The DAL-e robot uses integrated language processing to help customers through their car-buying journey.

Hyundai's DAl-e is an AI powered robot that provides customer support on showroom floors.

South Korean automaker Hyundai has begun testing an AI-powered robot to assist customers on its showroom floors. Called the DAL-e, the roughly four-foot robot has integrated language processing, facial recognition, and automated mobility, enabling it to engage with customers and help them along their car-buying journey.

According to a press release, DAL-e can escort customers around a showroom and provide useful information on products and services offered, including details regarding Hyundai's range of vehicles. The top of the robot features a screen that can display relevant information.


Contactless help — Hyundai is pitching DAL-e as perfectly suited to the COVID-19 pandemic as it offers contact-free customer service, easing workflows for staff and providing peace of mind to customers. Because it has facial recognition, DAL-e is even supposed to recognize customers who aren't wearing a mask and ask them to put one on.

Some people may not feel comfortable being assisted by a human during these times, but robots using artificial intelligence aren't always great at conversation, especially if it deviates from the scripts they're trained on. Most people have come to understand the limitations of Apple's Siri, but if DAL-e fails at responding to even one question, customers may give up and just go look for a human because they assume the robot will keep failing.

Ok, it's cute — DAL-e isn't meant to be a general-purpose assistant, though. Hyundai says that when it comes to questions about cars, the robot can engage in "smooth and engaging dialogue and provide valuable services to [customers]." DAL-e is supposed to get better over time with continuous updates.

Samsung has similarly been working on an AI customer service product called Neon. In that implementation, life-like humanoid avatars appear on large screens and can answer questions tailored to the environment they're in. Samsung hopes Neon will be used for everything from supplementing bank tellers to providing the weather forecasts to passersby on the street. The product has received mixed reviews due to limitations in artificial intelligence, though Neon is notable more so for the photorealism of its avatars that's meant to foster trust that it will be helpful.

DAL-e has one downright cute feature that might make up for any faults — Hyundai says it will beckon visitors to take photos with it.

The robot is already in use at a showroom in Seoul, South Korea. Hyundai has indicated that if all goes well, it will introduce DAL-e in more showrooms. Even if that happens, the sway of a human will probably still be necessary to close a deal.