‘Laura’ will tell Skoda drivers where to go

Skoda Laura in-car assistant

At the rate things are going, in-car digital assistants will require their own union or WhatsApp group. Laura is the latest virtual PA to hit the road, and ‘she’ is coming to a Skoda near you soon.

Skoda says Laura has mastered six languages, is quite comfortable with natural voice and doesn’t mind being interrupted. Ask nicely and she’ll even turn on the TV and put out the trash. Probably.

For now, Kamiq and Scala models equipped with the top-of-the-range Amundsen infotainment system will come with added Laura, but other models will follow.

Say “Okay, Laura” to activate the voice control system and Laura will spring into life. There’s no need to press a button or to use a set of predetermined commands or phrases.

Think of Laura

Laura Skoda digital assistant

As well as six languages, Laura is also comfortable with accents and dialects, which should come in handy for Skoda customers in some of the UK’s rural outposts.

Digital assistants are nothing new – many people use them at home or in the car – but Skoda’s decision to use a girl’s name is a little different. Mercedes, for example, uses the company name for its MBUX system.

Why Laura? It’s a name Skoda has used before, with the second-generation Octavia rebadged Laura for India

Laura-equipped models will come with an on-board eSIM card included as standard, meaning cars are always online. Skoda says the transition between online and offline services is “so seamless that occupants are never aware of it”.

Tell Laura I love her

Skoda Laura digital assistant

You can interrupt Laura at any time, with the radio or media player volume lowered rather than muted completely to give a “sense of having a natural, relaxed conversation”.

Thanks to Laura, lonely motorway commutes will be a thing of past – Skoda says that Laura will evolve to engage in a “kind of digital small talk”.

Much will depend on how Laura performs in ‘person’. We will report back once we’ve tested the system in the real world.