Earlier this week, Volkswagen announced plans to expand its in-car voice assistant IDA With ChatGPT. I must admit that at first I did not fully understand the point, but here I had a chance CES 2024 in Las Vegas to hear about the vision for this integration from Cerence, which already handles the back end of VW’s voice assistant. As always, this is a bit of a rough demo because it’s hard to see exactly how ChatGPT will help you when you’re on the road when you’re sitting in a stationary car at a convention center.
But conceptually, the idea of bringing ChatGPT into the car is to avoid the “dead end” when you have something as an IDA, Cerence told us. Drivers don’t need to do anything different — just say “Hello IDA” or press the voice assistant button on the driver’s wheel and start talking. If there is something BIA doesn’t know, it will check with ChatGPT. When the voice assistant hits ChatGPT, you’ll only know because it says “by ChatGPT” at the beginning of the response.
I still don’t quite understand why ChatGPT is good. One demonstration we saw was asking the car to tell a story about dinosaurs as a theoretical way to entertain children in the back seat. ChatGPT quickly bounced back and started spinning a lovely thread – a good proof of concept, but you’ll probably have to do a lot in the car. I asked the car to tell me about the Sphere, a huge new concert/entertainment venue in Las Vegas, and it started replying with details about “opening soon.” This is because the version of ChatGPT in the car does not necessarily have the latest information about it. I was expecting a more Google-like experience, where I’m like, “who won the Celtics game last night?” but that’s not really what ChatGPT is.
Given how capable the IDA voice assistant already seems, I’m not yet sure how much ChatGPT will add to the equation. However, the usual caveats apply – this was just a quick demo, not on the way, and not quite ready for release yet. But VW isn’t alone in seeing the benefits of adding LLM to its vehicles. BMW does Works with Amazon Mercedes-Benz has started to bring AI-powered car data to its cars Testing ChatGPT integration last year. I’m sure we’ll hear more about it from other manufacturers next year.
We’re reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas, January 6-12. Stay up to date with the latest news from the show here.