GM and Amazon Alexa Bring OnStar Guardian Platform to Homes

General Motors Co. in Detroit and Seattle-based Amazon today announced plans to introduce the OnStar Guardian skill for Amazon Alexa, a new feature that will provide a voice-enabled connection to Emergency-Certified OnStar Advisors at home through compatible Alexa-enabled devices.
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General Motors and Amazon today announced plans to introduce the OnStar Guardian skill to Alexa-enabled home devices. // Courtesy of General Motors
General Motors and Amazon today announced plans to introduce the OnStar Guardian skill to Alexa-enabled home devices. // Courtesy of General Motors

General Motors Co. in Detroit and Seattle-based Amazon today announced plans to introduce the OnStar Guardian skill for Amazon Alexa, a new feature that will provide a voice-enabled connection to Emergency-Certified OnStar Advisors at home through compatible Alexa-enabled devices.

The OnStar Guardian skill for Amazon Alexa is part of the OnStar Guardian platform, and is enabled on compatible, in-home Alexa devices. Household members can reach OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisors by saying, “Alexa, call for help,” during crisis situations, such as house fires, medical emergencies, break-ins, and more.

“Through our collaboration with Amazon, people can now have access to OnStar’s Emergency-Certified Advisors in a place where they spend so much of their time — their home,” says Pam Fletcher, vice president ofGM Global Innovation. “This is another great example of how we’re expanding the safety and security of OnStar beyond the vehicle to help more people, which demonstrates GM’s commitment to its growth strategy and innovating its software enabled services.”

The OnStar Guardian skill for Amazon Alexa will initially be available to select OnStar members, with the intent to broadly roll out the service, beginning in 2022, to anyone in the United States with a compatible, in-home Alexa-enabled device, such as an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show. Initial OnStar members will receive more details about how to sign up for the OnStar Guardian skill for Amazon Alexa via email.

“We’re excited to work with General Motors to introduce the OnStar Guardian skill to customers,” says Beatrice Geoffrin, director of Amazon Alexa. “This hands-free Alexa skill makes it easy for customers to get help from OnStar’s Emergency-Certified Advisors when they need it. We hope this feature helps give families greater peace of mind throughout their day-to-day lives at home.”

In related news, General Motors President Mark Reuss on Tuesday revealed the automaker’s group of three all-new motors that will power its Ultium-based EVs.

Designed by GM, the 180-kilowatt front-drive motor, 255-kW rear- and front-drive motor, and 62-kW all-wheel drive assist motor are part of Ultium Drive. All three motors were calibrated in-house to ensure the highest level of performance in Ultium-based EVs. The motors were built as a scalable family, sharing design principles as well as similar tooling and manufacturing strategies.

“Twenty years of electric drive system development and more than 100 years of high-volume vehicle engineering are helping GM pivot quickly from conventional vehicles to EVs,” said Reuss, during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference. “Our vertical integration in this space, encompassing both hardware and software, helps give us control over our own destiny and a significant competitive advantage.”

The 180- and 255-kW units are permanent magnet motors and were designed to minimize reliance on heavy rare earth materials while the 62-kW unit is an induction motor. All are expected to offer high levels of torque and power density, enabling a wide spectrum of vehicle types, from performance cars to work trucks.

As many as three electric motors can be used in one EV — variations of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV will feature three separate 255-kW motors, yielding a GM-estimated output of 1,000 horsepower.

GM engineers have also developed the software for Ultium Drive’s motor controllers, which serves the propulsion needs of various vehicle types with a minimal set of components. These engineers, based at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Global Propulsion Systems in Pontiac, and the Milford Proving Ground, are part of the nearly 11,000 GM product development employees working in software development. The number is projected to grow with software serving as a critical pillar of GM’s vision of an all-electric future.

The team used computer-assisted and virtual engineering to move quickly, safely, and in a cost-effective manner while also improving vehicle controls. Artificial intelligence and machine learning helped determine the most efficient ways to distribute torque in three-motor systems, like in the GMC Hummer EV, allowing the extremely off-road capable vehicle to also drive comfortably on surface streets.

The software behind GM’s EV motors can be reused in many applications, providing fast go-to-market times as well as the foundation for future EV expansion, as these motors are versatile enough to provide the power needs for a complete lineup of vehicles.

GM also designed the software of key power electronics components — like the power inverter module or inverter, which converts DC voltage from the battery to AC voltage to power the motor. The Hummer EV’s 0-60 mph acceleration in a GM-estimated approximately three seconds — Watts to Freedom mode — is largely due to GM’s electric drive software expertise in addition to its key competencies in motor controls, power electronics, motor design, and development.

The inverter and other power electronics, like the accessory power module and onboard charging module, reside outside of the drive units on GM’s current EVs. In Ultium-based vehicles, they will be integrated directly into Ultium Drive units, reducing cost and manufacturing complexity.

Some power electronics will have as much as 50 percent less mass and volume than today’s GM equivalents, with as much as 25 percent more capability.

GM’s all-new EV motors and integrated power electronics, contained within its Ultium Drive units, will debut on the 2022 GMC Hummer EV later this year.

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