Image: The Verge
Volkswagen is joining the generative AI trend by announcing its intention to incorporate OpenAI's ChatGPT into its vehicles, with deployment slated to commence in the second quarter of 2024.
This chatbot will be integrated across Volkswagen's range, encompassing models such as Tiguan, Passat, and Golf, as well as the automaker's ID electric vehicle family. Initially, it will be introduced in Europe, with potential expansion to the U.S. market under consideration, pending final decisions.
VW's objective is to leverage ChatGPT to enhance its in-car voice assistant, IDA, fostering more natural and intuitive communication between the vehicle and the driver. This super-powered voice assistant enables vehicle owners to manage basic functions like climate control and address general knowledge queries. However, given ChatGPT's occasional tendency to provide inaccurate information, users are advised to exercise discretion.
Wondering about the need for ChatGPT in your car? VW envisions future functionalities that will underscore its value, including enriched conversations, clarifying queries, and delivering vehicle-specific information, all while keeping interactions hands-free.
Volkswagen assures customers that no new accounts or app installations will be required to activate the chatbot. Users can engage it through wake words, "Hello IDA," or by pressing a steering wheel button. Importantly, OpenAI won't access your driving data, as VW ensures that questions and answers are promptly deleted for maximum data protection.
Last year, OpenAI announced plans to introduce a platform for crafting customized versions of ChatGPT for specific use cases, accessible through its GPT Store.
Typically, vehicle voice assistants excel at basic tasks like adjusting seat heaters or defrosting windows but lack conversational prowess, often falling short on complex navigation requests. Many automakers have resorted to third-party voice assistants like Google's Assistant and Amazon's Alexa.
While ChatGPT and similar language model chatbots have been criticized for occasionally offering incorrect information and have faced legal challenges, VW is leading the charge by officially embracing this chatbot for automotive use.
VW attributes its ability to integrate OpenAI's chatbot to Cerence, a third-party software firm known for producing "automotive-grade" ChatGPT integrations. Cerence's Chat Pro software will enhance VW's voice assistant to provide relevant responses to a wide range of inquiries.
This move by VW underscores its pursuit of innovation amid challenges faced in 2023, including sluggish sales growth, software issues, and layoffs. As one of the world's largest automakers, VW is venturing into the AI domain to inject a tech-savvy vibe into its brand.
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