Given the hype around AI, this year’s CES soirée in the Las Vegas desert is sure to be awash with such technology – most of which will likely be deployed in strange and perhaps terrifying ways. Arguably falling into the latter category is VW’s decision to present the first vehicles in which the artificial-intelligence-based chatbot ChatGPT is integrated into its IDA voice assistant.
Some good news? The feature is only being “considered for the United States” at the moment.
According to spox at the show, several models from VW Group brands which use the on-board IDA voice assistant will have access to automotive-grade ChatGPT integration via a service called Cerence Chat Pro. If, like us, you’re scratching your noggin at that last sentence, Cerence is apparently the company which is VW’s tech partner in all this. Volkswagen claims to be the first volume manufacturer to offer Chat GPT as a standard feature from the second quarter of 2024 in many production vehicles. As mentioned, the feature is being considered for the United States.
Alert readers with visions of HAL9000 or Skynet are surely, like the Ryan Reynolds meme, asking “but why?” We know the IDA voice assistant can already control infotainment, nav, and ventilation – with varying degrees of success, it must be said. In the future, VW wants the AI component to provide additional information in response to questions which go beyond these commands, pointing out ways in which it can be helpful on during a car journey. Examples given include enriching conversations, clearing up questions, interacting in intuitive language, and receiving vehicle-specific information. We’ll leave it up to the B&B to remark on the necessity of it all.
The company insists ChatGPT does not gain any access to vehicle data. Questions and answers are said to be deleted immediately to ensure the highest possible level of data protection. On the back end, IDA allegedly prioritizes whether a vehicle function should be executed – a destination searched or temperature adjusted, say. If the request cannot be answered by the native VW system, it is supposed to be forwarded anonymously to AI with the response piped back in a familiar Volkswagen voice.
If any of our readers experience a reply in the voice of Locutus or the Borg Collective in general, please get in touch with us.
To placate gearheads in the audience at CES, the company is displaying a swoopy ID.7 and the upcoming refreshed GTI. Photos distributed of the latter were likely intended to show the infotainment interface on which this ChatGPT announcement is focused, but all we see is confirmation of what the center console will look like now that VW will no longer offer the GTI/R with a manual transmission. In its place we see a Remington lady shaver not unlike ones which sprouted from Porsche consoles not long ago.
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