Mercedes tries putting ChatGPT in your car
A three-month beta program kicks off this week.
Mercedes-Benz is putting ChatGPT on the road. The automaker is using Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service to bring the viral natural-language model to its in-car voice assistant. It will initially be available in a three-month beta program for US customers in select vehicles, but Mercedes says it will consider a broader and more permanent rollout in the future.
ChatGPT integration could put the automaker’s “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant on steroids. Rather than merely answering simple and pre-programmed commands like “Turn up the heat” or “What’s the forecast,” it can carry natural conversations about virtually any topic, including contextual follow-up questions. (Children of the 1980s can finally live out their Knight Rider fantasies.) In addition, Mercedes says it’s “exploring” ChatGPT plugins to enable tasks like making restaurant reservations or booking movie tickets through natural language.
Although holding a lengthy chat on the road could lead to distracted driving, the fact that it’s voice-only should lessen the concern for recklessness. Perhaps it could even help by answering questions you’d otherwise be tempted to look up on your phone while behind the wheel.
Mercedes and Microsoft tout Azure’s “enterprise-grade security, privacy and reliability” for data protection. Still, the companies clarify that your conversations will be “stored in the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Cloud, where it is anonymised and analysed.” In other words, assume people will listen to your recordings for training and data analysis, so be wary about uttering anything that’s private or could identify you personally.
The three-month beta begins on June 16th and will only cover select Mercedes models running the MBUX infotainment system. (You can view the list of eligible vehicles in the footnotes here.) To enter the program in a qualified model, tell the car’s built-in voice assistant, “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program.”