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VW adds ChatGPT to these select models

Which VW vehicles will come with ChatGPT

VW GTI concept on flat earth with mountains in the background, right side three-quarter front view.
VW USA / VW USA

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, VW revealed the first vehicles to integrate the ChatGPT chatbot into VW’s current IDA digital voice assistant. VW is working with Cerence Inc.’s Cerence Chat Pro to enable IDA to work with ChatGPT. Cerence Chat Pro integrates an automotive-grade ChatGPT with IDA and keeps personal and identification data separate from ChatGPT.

In an announcement at CES, VW detailed which vehicles that use the latest version of VW’s infotainment system will use ChatGPT with the IDA assistant. Those vehicles include VW ID.7 EV, ID.4, ID.5, and ID.3, plus the all-new VW Tiguan, Passat, and Golf versions.

VW GTI concept shot of drivers cockpit and dashboard with ChapGPT answeringa question about the first CES.
VW USA / VW USA

Why VW adding ChatGPT is important

In only 14 months since ChatGPT entered general public awareness, the large language model (LLM) artificial intelligence application has shaken the world. Companies, governments, and consumers balance the exciting potentials and risks of ChatGPT and other LLMs. LLMs already assist in tasks ranging from mundane to creative. There are concerns about data privacy, AI running out of human control, and the potential for bad actors to use LLMs for evil purposes. Love it or fear it, LLMs are here and will not disappear.

The automotive industry must get in front of LLMs as early as possible. Car companies worldwide took too long to accept and integrate cellular telecommunications and smart device technologies. A common statement in the late 90s was, “We can’t have cars that reboot while traveling at high speeds on the highway.” Eventually, the automakers began to catch up with smart devices, though some Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces still act like 1999.

It will be handy when you can ask ChatGPT questions and get fuller, better answers than we get today from Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. The most important thing to get from integrating ChatGPT with in-car information systems will be improved safety. Fully autonomous driving in other than limited test platforms remains relatively distant. Still, many drivers are increasingly dependent on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as lane-keeping, adaptive collision avoidance, and obstacle detection and response.

Large-scale use-testing is imperative to integrate LLMs with vehicle information and automation systems safely. Indeed, we’ve learned that test campuses and other limited region trials aren’t sufficient to vet self-driving cars thoroughly. The sooner the automotive industry can learn from experience with the gifts and the potential threats of LLMs, the better.

VW ID.7 concept vehicle parked on desert sand with mountains in backgroud reflecting rising sun left front three-quarter view of white car.
VW USA / VW USA

How ChatGPT will function in VWs

The mechanism for VW’s IDA and ChatGPT, as outlined in the VW news release, adds ChatGPT as an extra layer of information to IDA. Users won’t need to enter a new system or use different prompts or interfaces. Cerence Chat Pro will control when IDA information or responses are insufficient and then access ChatGPT for additional information or insight.

According to VW, Cerence Chat Pro will also assist in developing VW’s systems by identifying additional ways to increase the value of IDA’s capabilities.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

VW will protect your data from AI

In the 1990s, when E-ZPass in-car transponders for paying highway and bridge tolls were first introduced, I had a friend who didn’t want to use an E-ZPass because he didn’t want anyone else to know where he traveled. Today, highway cameras capture vehicle information at full speed and send bills to the addresses of the owners of vehicles that don’t have transponders.

According to VW and Cerence, all information and interactions with IDA will be private and not shared with ChatGPT. ChatGPT won’t know where you are, your car’s service due dates, or the questions you ask IDA. ChatGPT won’t learn and, therefore, cannot share any private information about you or your vehicles with others.

It’s not a given that VW will integrate ChatGPT with IDA in the U.S. VW plans to offer the ChatGPT function with new vehicles in the second quarter of 2024, but adding the application in the U.S. is in consideration.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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