Today’s cars are computers on wheels. But Volkswagen plans to make its products even smarter by adding the ChatGPT artificial intelligence system to a mix of new gas and electric models, including the all-new Tiguan and ID.4. But American motorists will have to wait.
Volkswagen will add the artificial intelligence-based ChatGPT to six new models this coming year, the German automaker announced during a news conference at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
Most new vehicles now use voice recognition systems permitting a motorist to change radio stations, set a destination and control other vehicle functions. A few have added Amazon Alexa-style “voice assistants.” ChatGPT takes things a significant step further, using a “large language” model that helps refine and steer a conversation, adding the ability to ask much more detailed questions and get more complex responses.
CES 2024 sees a number of manufacturers upgrading their voice technology. Mercedes-Benz, for one, is debuting what it describes as a “hyper-personalized” version of its now-familiar MBUX voice assistant. But VW will be the first to specifically integrate the widely used ChatGPT technology.
Crossing the “Uncanny Valley”
The latest generation of artificial intelligence technology has reached the point that some experts say it’s entered “the Uncanny Valley,” where it becomes increasingly difficult to tell whether a response comes from a machine or a human — though critics contend current AI systems sometimes make up answers and can provide false or misleading responses.
In Volkswagen’s case, ChatGPT won’t be writing term papers or providing medical guidance. Paired with the latest generation of the automaker’s new voice assistant, IDA and prounced Ida, the automaker said, it “offers a multitude of new capabilities that go far beyond the previous voice control.
For example, IDA can be used, for example, to control the infotainment, navigation and air conditioning, or to answer general knowledge questions.”
In fact, Stefan Ortmanns, CEO of Cerence Inc., noted the new assistant “supports more use cases. Among other things, it deeply connects (the driver) with the vehicle.”
He noted the system can discern between individual voices in a vehicle and where they’re located. So if someone on the back seat asks for it to be a warmer, the assistant can turn up the heat in the back seat rather than the entire vehicle.
Additionally, it can help someone find a restaurant based on their personal favorites. So if you like buttered chicken, not only can if find a restaurant that serves it, the system can also get you the recipe. “We’re entering a new era of computing based on your personal preferences,” Ortmanns noted.
Those preferences can make everyday life just a bit easier. Have child looking to be entertained and they like dinosaurs, simply as IDA to tell them a story about the creatures and it will be done. Kai Grünitz, board member for technical development at VW, noted using ChatGPT “is key to letting our customers operate their vehicles intuitively.”
For now, the system will be capable of “enriching conversations” during a drive, the automaker added in a statement.
More auto tech news
- Mercedes brings a “hyper-personalized” version of its MBUX voice assistant to CES
- CES 2024 ushers in the era of the “Software-Defined Vehicle
- Hybrids, EVs dominate as North American Car, Truck, Utility Vehicle of the Year winners announced
Six models to start — but not in the U.S.
Volkswagen said the ChatGPT features will debut on four of its all-electric models, the ID.3, ID.4, ID.5 and ID.7 models, as well as the latest updates of its Tiguan and Passat.
But the automaker said the ChatGPT feature, for now, wiill be offered only in select global markets. The U.S., it added, “is being considered.”
The AI system won’t require any new apps or subscriptions. It will be integrated into the IDA voice assistant automatically.
AI to find widespread application in the auto industry
From a consumer perspective, AI systems like ChatGPT will first appear in automobiles in the form of even smarter and intuitive voice assistants.
For one thing, its beginning to be incorporated into autonomous vehicle systems to make them more reliable and refined. And suppliers like Bosch are using it to improve the functionality of the advanced driver assistance systems that already help prevent crashes.
AI will also provide ways to advance the business side of the industry, experts contend, everything from the design and engineering of future products to more effectively targeted marketing campaigns.