Volkswagen has entered the world of ChatGPT with a bang. The renowned German automaker has revealed plans to incorporate an AI-powered chatbot into all their vehicles equipped with the IDA voice assistant, as part of their announcement at CES 2024 in Las Vegas.
But what could possibly be the reason behind this decision? Well, it’s for those drivers who desire an AI-based chatbot that can read out well-researched content to them.
The chatbot, powered by Cerence’s Chat Pro product, will first roll out in Europe in the second quarter. It will initially be available in various Volkswagen EV models such as the ID.7, ID.4, ID.5, and ID.3, as well as the new Tiguan, Passat, and Golf vehicles.
Unfortunately for now, this feature will not be available in Volkswagen models in the United States as it is still “under consideration” according to the company.
ChatGPT, a text-generating AI chatbot created by the well-known tech startup OpenAI, has certainly made its mark in the industry recently. And now, it seems that Volkswagen is the largest automaker so far to announce plans of integrating ChatGPT into their vehicles. However, they are not the first to do so. Mercedes-Benz successfully added the conversational AI-bot to their MBUX infotainment system in June last year.
Similar to Mercedes, Volkswagen has incorporated ChatGPT into the backend of its IDA voice assistant. This means that drivers can use it to control the infotainment, navigation, air conditioning, and even ask general knowledge questions.
Volkswagen has promised that ChatGPT will go beyond the standard capabilities of an AI chatbot. They claim that it will be able to enrich conversations, clear up doubts, interact in a natural and intuitive manner, provide vehicle-specific information, and much more – all completely hands-free.
Once launched, drivers will use the IDA voice assistant just as they have done before. It can be activated by saying the wake word “Hello IDA” or by pressing a button on the steering wheel. In cases where the voice assistant cannot handle the request, which is usually something beyond a simple question like “Hey IDA, what’s the weather forecast?”, it will be sent anonymously to the AI. The response will then be relayed through the IDA voice assistant, so the driver may not even be aware that ChatGPT is being utilized.
But Volkswagen has bigger plans when it comes to AI integration in their vehicles. According to Cerence CEO Stefan Ortmanns, the two companies will work together to create a new large language model (LLM)-based user experience that will serve as the foundation for Volkswagen’s next-generation in-car assistant.
It’s important to note that this particular rollout is separate from the efforts of Cariad, the software arm of Volkswagen’s parent company VW Group, which was established in 2020 to address the company’s software challenges. However, the unit has faced its own set of obstacles in the past year, including a delayed software launch and a change in leadership.