The Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo points to how AI will help us drive

Let me start this review by saying the artificial intelligence I’m going to cover in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo is not a big leap forward, but it is important. 

AI is at work when there is some intelligence designed to aid us, and the AI usually has to interpret the world or make suggestions based on available information. It’s AI when a robot senses it is raining and turns off your sprinkler system. It’s also AI when you ask ChapGPT interface to write a resume for you. You provide an input and some data, and the bot takes over and does some intelligent thinking for you.

In the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, there’s a very simple AI feature that surprised me, mostly because I’ve tested so many vehicles and never noticed it before. Maybe it’s a common feature, but I found it useful.

The feature is that, when you are using the car to send a text by voice, the Grand Cherokee automatically lowers the fans. It’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised how helpful it is. Now, this is not really full AI because all that’s really happening is that, when you try to text, the car knows you can’t hear or speak as easily, so it lowers the fans.

I would say it would be “full” AI if the car noticed you received an email from your boss, that you were driving, and offered to send a text on your behalf. That would be some extra intelligence fr sure, although I do think the Cherokee is showing us how this will work in the future, even if it’s more like an automation than an AI bot working on your behalf.

To the driver, it doesn’t matter. Setting aside the AI discussion (automation versus intelligence), the feature helped me multiple times while texting by voice. I could not only speak quieter and not yell at the car, but when Siri read my texts back to me to confirm, I could easily hear. And then, like the miracle of AI, the car would turn the fans back on to the speed they were at.

Again, it’s a small thing but could even be downright life-saving if it means texting by voice is easier and not as distracting and frustrating.

What comes after this? All of the things that make AI so wonderful. 

The car would know there’s a hailstorm in a specific area, and remind you to take a different toure or even re-program that nav system on its own. There’s the integration I mentioned with email to alert you about problems or important issues, and even lead you into a text conversation or a phone call. 

How about receiving a call from someone the bot knows you never want to talk to, such as a co-worker who is always angry on the phone? That level of AI is many years away, but not actually that difficult. A bot could see that you never take the call after months and months. Or the bot could read tone and emotion during a call and decide not to answer next time.

Many of these features could be life-saving, because they help us focus, keep our eyes on the road, and allow the bot to process information for us about dangers, develop productive habits, avoid obstructions, or make simple choices that are better left to a smart assistant.

Lowering the fans is not rocket science. It could point to a much safer future, though.