In-Car Tech

Blink Roadside skill for Amazon Alexa allows voice-activated roadside help

Drivers can enjoy Alexa by using simple voice commands, all while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Photo courtesy of BMW

The first voice-activated Amazon Alexa skill for roadside assistance is now available. The Blink Roadside skill allows Alexa users to get help by uttering common roadside request phrases like, "Alexa, I have a flat tire" or "Alexa, my car won't start". These phrases launch the skill.

Agero, a digital-first vehicle solutions company, created the skill leveraging their extensive network of service partners and digital customer experience. This is the same technology that is used by automobile clubs, manufacturers, and insurance carriers.

The technology services 100 percent of the zip codes in the U.S. This makes Blink Roadside the broadest offered roadside assistance service in the nation.

Chevrolet Amazon Alexa Drivers can use Amazon Alexa for thousands of skills.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The company charges a flat fee for service, which it says saves customers money on services that often can top $100. Payment options for these services are available for Amazon Pay so no additional log-in names or sign-ups are required.

The Blink Roadside skill isn't confined for used in the vehicle. It's availble on all Alexa-enabled devices. According to the company, when initiated, the Blink Roadside skill "will offer to connect customers with highly-trained Agero representatives and a comprehensive digital service experience, including status update notifications and links to live service truck tracking delivered to customers via text message."

Customers will need to grant the skill permission to use real-time location information of their Alexa device.

Some of the skill activation phrases include:

  • "Alexa, I have a flat tire"
  • "Alexa, I need someone to jumpstart my car"
  • "Alexa, my car ran out of gas"
  • "Alexa, I need roadside assistance for my car"
  • "Alexa, my car won't start"
  • "Alexa, my car is broken down"

"Our goal at Agero is to make it easy for motorists to get help when they have a breakdown," said Raj Behara, vice president of engineering and chief technology officer, Agero. "Working with Amazon to create this innovative, out-of-the-box assistance capability for Alexa is a reflection of that mission, and part of our ongoing commitment to digitally transform and dramatically simplify the roadside experience for drivers."

Agero currently protects more than 115 million vehicles, servicing approximately 12 million annual breakdown and accident events – that's nearly 1,400 events an hour. Agero's roadside services are available to drivers of two-thirds of new passenger vehicles, two-thirds of the top auto insurance carriers, and many others.

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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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All-new sports sedans

All-new 2022 Audi A3 and S3 coming soon

The 2022 A3 gets sharper styling.

Audi

The Audi A3 and S3 might be small, but both cars bring benchmark performance and luxury to the compact side of the premium market. The cars have been totally overhauled for the 2022 model year, and pick up new powertrain tech, updated interiors, and sharper styling.

Audi says that the A3 is wider and more aggressively styled than its predecessor, and notes that it will carry a new, wider grille and headlight design. The S3 is now longer and wider than before, and will sport a larger, more aggressive exhaust system.


2022 Audi A3 The A3's interior gets new color options for 2022.Audi


The 2022 A3 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 201 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The powertrain also gets a 48-volt mild-hybrid boost for the first time in 2021, which will provide better take-off acceleration and can allow the car to coast with the engine off.

The S3 derives 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, which is a bump of 18 horsepower and 15 pound-feet of torque over its predecessor. Audi says that the new powertrain configuration allows the 2022 S3 to sprint from 0-60 mph in only 4.5 seconds. The S3 also benefits from a .6-inch drop in ride height and new available S sport suspension with damper control that can be adjusted with drive mode selections from the cockpit.


2022 Audi S3 The sporty S3 has also been redesigned for 2022.Audi


The A3's interior brings standard heated setas with eight-way power adjustment, a standard panoramic sunroof, tri-zone climate control, and leather upholstery. Two new color options are available for the 2021 A3, including Santos Brown with Steel Gray stitching and Parchment Beige with Steel Gray stitching. The S3 gets new power-adjustable S sport seats, and can be upgraded inside with diamond-stitched Nappa leather upholstery.

A 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard for both cars, along with a 10.25-inch digital gauge display. Audi's virtual cockpit system, which can project maps and other information into the gauge cluster, is available with a 12.3-inch gauge upgrade option. A head-up display is also available for the first time in both cars.


2022 Audi S3 The S3's interior has been updated with new seats.Audi


Audi includes a few advanced driver aids as standard equipment, which include forward collision warnings, high-beam assist, lane departure warnings, and a pre-collision system that shuts windows and pretensions seatbelts. Most features are optional, and include a parking assistance system, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, and more.

The 2022 Audi A3 will have a starting price of $34,945, which includes a $1,045 destination charge. The A3 Quattro will start at $36,945 and the 2021 S3 will have a starting price of $45,945.

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