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Courtesy of VW

Courtesy of VW

MARTIN MEINERS PHOTOGRAPHY

We did predict that AI in some form or another would be everywhere this CES, so it’s hardly surprising that VW has just presented its very first cars that have ChatGPT integrated into its IDA voice assistant. Clearly, the German auto manufacturer has no issues with the Sam Altman-based shenanigans that have taken place at OpenAI recently, and doubtless other car manufacturers will announce similar LLM-integrated offerings this week.

The boon for VW here is that, from the second quarter of 2024, Volkswagen will supposedly be the first big manufacturer to offer Chat GPT as a standard feature in its vehicles. The ability comes via third-party Cerence Chat Pro, which uses ChatGPT to allow voice Q&A on “virtually any topic.” Cerence also allows OEMs to define their own persona for the chatbot, as well as change certain answers given via a self-serve web portal.

Volkswagen’s new ChatGPT-powered chatbot will arrive in the ID.71, ID.4, ID.5, ID.3, in the new Tiguan3 and Passat3, as well as in VW’s new Golf.

The reason Volkswagen (along with other OEMs) is eager to implement LLM tech into in-car voice assistants is obvious—the current offerings are far from useful. This new VW bot will supposedly be capable of going beyond the previous voice control. The examples are far from exciting, however: “The IDA voice assistant can be used to control the infotainment, navigation, and air conditioning, or to answer general knowledge questions.” Hmm.

Still, VW plows on, undeterred: “In the future, AI will provide additional information in response to questions that go beyond this as part of its continuously expanding capabilities. This can be helpful on many levels during a car journey: Enriching conversations, clearing up questions, interacting in intuitive language, receiving vehicle-specific information, and much more.” This all very much smacks of VW having no clear idea what to use the new bot tech for, in reality.

As for security of the new AI bot, VW insists that ChatGPT does not gain access to any vehicle data, while questions and answers are deleted immediately.