Luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz is outfitting its MBUX Voice Assistant with ChatGPT as part of a new US-only beta program. Joining the beta will allow drivers of over 900,000 “vehicles equipped with MBUX [to hold] “more dynamic” conversations with the onboard AI.
In the official announcement post, the company states it’s seeking to improve its voice assistant beyond “predefined tasks and responses”. ChatGPT’s own large language model would “greatly improve [MBUX’s] natural language understanding [to] expand the topics to which it can respond.” So not only will customers be able to give voice commands, but they can also ask the AI for detailed information about their destination or suggestions for a new dinner recipe.
To make the program possible, Mercedes is incorporating Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service in the rollout, ensuring, according to the auto manufacturer, “enterprise-grade security, privacy, and reliability”. Conversation data will be collected and then stored in the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Cloud where it will be “anonymized and analyzed.” All IT processes will be controlled by the company as it promises to protect “all customer data from… misuse.” Microsoft won’t have any access.
If you want to see it in action before installation, tech news site Electrek recently published a couple of videos showing off the upgraded MBUX. It utilizes both the dashboard screen as well as its onboard voice to deliver answers. When asked for suggestions for the best local beaches, the AI displayed a text list of nearby locations before recommending activities like surfing. It can even tell jokes, although they’re pretty terrible.
The beta program starts June 16 in the United States only, as stated earlier. To get started, eligible customers must first say “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program” as a command to MBUX. From there, it’ll teach you how to install the ChatGPT patch. It appears part of the onboarding process includes connecting a mobile device to the AI. A full list of vehicles supporting the beta is available on the company’s website. In total, there are over 25 models ranging from sedans to SUVs.
The beta program should last three months. After that time, it’ll go offline for an indeterminate amount of time. Mercedes will then take the data it collects to improve the AI for an eventual launch. It’s unknown if either the program or the final version will be available to other global regions or other languages besides English.
We reached out to Mercedes-Benz for more information on the launch. This story will be updated at a later time.
Having a generative AI at your beck and call giving you travel suggestions sounds pretty useful and could lead to a lot more fruitful sightseeing. To that end, we recommend checking TechRadar’s list of the best travel camera for 2023 before planning your next trip.