Google has unveiled artificial intelligence software that books appointments over the phone on behalf of users by conducting voice-based conversations on their behalf.
Chief executive Sundar Pichair said that Google Duplex would launch as an “experiment” over the coming weeks.
The facility was unveiled at the firm’s annual IO developers conference.
Experts have said that if it works it could give the firm a major advantage over rival virtual assistants.
Pre-recorded demonstrations played back to the audience featured the software first booking a haircut and then making a restaurant reservation by speaking to two human employees.
One of the cases involved Google Assistant coping with a worker who seemed confused by straightforward questions.
The computer-generated voice sounded much more natural than the virtual helper had done in the past and included “ums” and other sounds typically produced in human speech.
At no point did it identify itself as a machine.
“Done correctly, it will save time for people and generate a lot of value for businesses,” suggested Mr Pichai.
He added that initially, the software would be used to call businesses to confirm their holiday opening times, and would then automatically update the information on the pages Google provides about them.