"Clova." (AI Voice Assistant's name)
"Book me a cab (for the disabled)."
"Sure, I'll book it for you right away."
It only takes a few moments to book a wheelchair accessible taxi, for disabled people in Seoul, using a voice assistant service.
The voice-only function was added this month to the city's taxi hailing service for persons with disabilities.
Developed by telecom carrier LG U Plus, the feature can be used on smartphones, as well as AI speakers.
It isn't just a matter of convenience.
It's a life-changing function for people with severe disabilities like Lee Won-jun.
"I cannot move my hands at all so even when my phone's right next to me, I can't easily call a cab. But now, I can simply use my voice to get a cab whenever I need one, which I rely on to get around."
Since 2003, Seoul City has been running a taxi service for persons with grade one to two brain disorders or physical disabilities.
"This call center in Eastern Seoul receives and processes around 4-thousand calls a day. Nearly 500 hundred taxis are ready to pick up passengers within an hour of their call."
The rates are highly subsidized by the city government, costing less than one dollar and fifty cents to travel 5 kilometers, and two dollars fifty for ten kilometers.
"We began with about 100 units and had 30 to 40-thousand users, but now the numbers have grown four-fold, reaching one.two million annually."
As Korea set to revamp its policies on welfare for the disabled later this year, demand for the taxi service is expected to surge.
Seoul City aims to increase the number of specialized taxis as well as refine service aspects such as waiting time.
It will also continue working with LG U Plus to improve voice-enabled calls.
"We aim to reduce the technological gap between people with and without disabilities. We plan to add features for people with visual disabilities, as well as emergency services."
AI-based services like these are expected to expand nationwide, as the central government plans to develop more services to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.