Mini, the British car brand owned by German automaker BMW, has announced a new “intelligent personal assistant” called Spike, based on the English Bulldog that’s appeared in some past Mini ads. Spike will make his first major appearance at the Shanghai auto show later this month where he’ll be integrated into the cockpit of the Mini Concept Aceman. We can’t help but agree with Jalopnik, which points out that the whole announcement has very “Microsoft Clippy” vibes, or maybe LG’s Bean Bird?
The plan is to eventually have Spike appear in future production cars. Carscoops reports that these future models will include the 2023 Mini Countryman, the 2024 Mini Cooper, and the Aceman Crossover SUV in 2025. It’s less clear exactly what Spike will be able to do in these vehicles, but in Shanghai the character will apparently provide “various forms of support” to attendees from the Aceman’s central circular OLED display and dashboard. Expect more concrete details to be released over the course of this year.
“We are now taking Spike into the future as a digital character,” said Mini’s design head Oliver Heilmer. “And he is not just a design experiment – he is becoming a characterful companion for the user experience.” Carscoops notes that Spike sounds a lot like an existing BMW feature that uses a simple voice to guide drivers around its car’s infotainment features, only now the voice could have a cartoon dog attached to it.
In the absence of concrete details from Mini about the kinds of things its digital assistant will be able to do, here are a couple of Spike features we’d like:
- Barking uncontrollably when anyone in the car says the words “walk” or “walkies.”
- Quietly saying “Ruh-roh” if you miss your highway exit.
- Taking control of the car to chase squirrels whenever possible.
Make it happen Mini.