Microsoft and Mercedes-Benz are teaming up to test OpenAI's ChatGPT in the German luxury car maker's fleet, the first such adoption of the technology in vehicles.
The trial will cover more than 900,000 vehicles in the US, with Mercedes-Benz owners given the opportunity to opt into a beta programme beginning on Friday, the companies said.
Owners of vehicles equipped with the MBUX infotainment system will be able to trigger the feature by saying “Hey Mercedes”, making the digital voice assistant “even more intuitive”, the German car maker said.
The new feature will be available for certain models in Mercedes-Benz's A, C, H, N, R, S, V, W and X Class ranges, the company said.
“ChatGPT complements the existing intuitive voice control … while most voice assistants are limited to predefined tasks and responses, ChatGPT leverages a large language model to greatly improve natural language understanding and expand the topics to which it can respond,” it said.
The trial will run for three months, and user feedback will determine ChatGPT's integration in Mercedes-Benz's future vehicles and in-car systems, Eric Boyd, corporate vice president for AI platforms at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.
“Mercedes-Benz customers can become early adopters of this groundbreaking technology … Mercedes-Benz will consider further integration of this technology into future iterations of their MBUX voice assistant,” he wrote.
AI has long been used by businesses in their operations, but it has gained momentum with the advent of generative AI.
The technology – made popular by ChatGPT – can produce various kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects and videos.
ChatGPT became a sensation because of its advanced conversational capabilities. It can even answer questions from patients “more accurately and empathically than doctors”, according to a recent study by the University of California.
Its rise started a race with Google's Bard, drew interest from Twitter chief executive Elon Musk and prompted Apple to work on improving its digital assistant Siri.
Investors have poured more than $4.2 billion into generative AI start-ups in 2021 and 2022 through 215 deals after interest surged in 2019, recent data from CB Insights showed.
Microsoft has backed OpenAI for a number of years now: In 2019, it provided $1 billion in funding, then followed that up in January with the announcement of the third phase of their long-term partnership with a new multi-year, multibillion-dollar investment worth a reported $10 billion.
“The integration of ChatGPT with Microsoft in our controlled cloud environment is a milestone on our way to making our cars the centre of our customers’ digital lives,” said Markus Schafer, chief technology officer of Mercedes-Benz Group.
The move will offer users benefits such as elevated voice command and interaction, in which “Hey Mercedes” not only understands queries but also engages in interactive conversations, the car maker said.
Users will also be able to take advantage of contextual follow-up questions.
“Drivers can ask complex queries or engage in multi-turn conversations, receiving detailed and relevant responses from the voice assistant,” Mr Boyd said.
Mercedes-Benz is also exploring the possibility of a ChatGPT plug-in ecosystem, which it said would potentially open up integration with third-party services.
“This could enable drivers to accomplish tasks like restaurant reservations, movie ticket bookings and more, using natural speech commands, further enhancing convenience and productivity on the road,” it said.
The companies also stressed that the privacy and security of users will be ensured, with the voice command data to be stored in Mercedes-Benz's own cloud, which is anonymised.
“Data protection is a top priority for Mercedes-Benz. Customers know at all times what information is collected and for what purpose, and they are free to make their own decisions. Mercedes-Benz protects all customer data from manipulation and misuse,” the company said.