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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Your next car might well be able to read your mind, offering suggestions of where to go and what to do before you even ask it.

Why it matters: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making vehicles smarter and safer than ever, and could potentially transform the relationship between driver and machine.

Driving the news: Cerence, a pioneer in vehicle voice-recognition, will be showing off an intuitive, AI-powered driving companion early next month at CES, the big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

  • Its new Cerence Co-Pilot, announced Monday, is designed to anticipate the needs of drivers through AI and continuous learning — think of it as a butler for your car.
  • Instead of drivers telling the car what to do with traditional wake-up words like, "Hey Alexa" or "Hey Mercedes," Co-Pilot will proactively offer to perform actions before drivers even need to ask.

How it works: The AI is integrated with the car's sensors and data to understand what's going on inside the vehicle and around it.

  • Acting as the car's central brain, the technology analyzes input from a combination of voice, gaze, gesture and touch controls, along with driver preferences and real-time sensor data, to keep drivers informed and anticipate their desires.

For example, the system can suggest ordering and paying for a cup of coffee when the driver is a mile from their favorite coffee shop.

  • Or, it could recognize a maintenance issue and offer to set up a service appointment.
  • Knowing that the driver has a meeting 50 miles away tomorrow morning, Co-Pilot could suggest stopping for fuel today, even though the low-fuel warning light isn't on.
  • It can also deliver real-time information such as severe weather approaching and offer to put the car in the appropriate driving mode.

Yes, but: Co-Pilot can also act like a backseat driver, pointing out that rolling stop you did at the last intersection, for example.

  • You can control notifications, though, so the system will learn when you don't want to be bugged, Cerence CTO Prateek Kathpal tells Axios.

What to watch: The technology will debut next month on two unnamed models, Cerence says.

  • Cerence Co-Pilot is just a taste of the news about smart car technology expected at CES starting Jan. 3.

Go deeper

Inflation microcosm: Used-car price surge continues

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumer Price Index data released Wednesday showed used-vehicle prices continue to surge. As of December, they were up 37% compared to the previous year.

Why it matters: Analysts have been watching used-vehicle prices as a microcosm of the broader U.S. inflation story, encompassing both the disarray of global supply chains and the surge in demand for goods.

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

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