towards a new era for voice assistants?

Mercedes-Benz is preparing to test the integration of the ChatGPT chatbot in its vehicles equipped with the MBUX interface, thanks to a partnership with Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service. This test aims to make the voice control of the MBUX assistant, activated by the Hey Mercedes, more intuitive.

If you’ve used ChatGPT or Bing Chat before, chances are you’ve been impressed with their performance. These chatbots seem to outperform all voice assistants currently on the market, including Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and of course, Microsoft Cortana. And it is natural to wonder why these powerful language models are not integrated into voice assistants? You are not alone in this question. In fact, everyone thinks about it.

A big announcement from Mercedes-Benz could mark a major step forward in this area. The German automaker said it will test the integration of ChatGPT in vehicles equipped with the MBUX interface, thanks to Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service. This new feature is currently reserved for US customers participating in a beta trial.

Hey Mercedes

The voice control of the MBUX assistant, activated by the famous Hey Mercedes, should become even more intuitive with the help of ChatGPT, according to Mercedes-Benz. Users can already query MBUX on various topics, such as sports scores, weather or environmental information. They can also control their connected home through the vehicle’s voice assistant.

The contribution of ChatGPT should significantly broaden the range of subjects that the language assistant can deal with, thanks to its Large Language Model (LLM). The latter is known for his ability to understand natural language. However, the MBUX language assistant will not be replaced by ChatGPT. Rather, the idea is to combine the verified data of MBUX with the additional dialog options offered by ChatGPT. For example, the assistant will be able to answer more detailed questions about a destination, clarify points of knowledge or even suggest recipes en route to the supermarket.

An important point to note is that responses provided by ChatGPT will be verbalized by the vehicle. Thus, the driver will be able to keep his eyes on the road and his hands on the steering wheel at all times.

However, one important point should be made clear. When we talk about ChatGPT, it is actually a language shortcut. Indeed, it is very likely that Mercedes-Benz does not integrate ChatGPT exactly, but rather a chatbot based on GPT, the underlying language model. This means that the data and knowledge the chatbot relies on might differ from that of ChatGPT.

Moreover, it is entirely plausible that Mercedes-Benz wants to create a tailor-made user experience, with specific rules and parameters. This would make it possible to adapt the chatbot to the specific environment of the car and the particular needs of the drivers.

A beta test phase

The beta testing phase will begin on June 16 for US customers with vehicle models equipped with the MBUX infotainment system.

The basis of this ChatGPT integration is a partnership with Microsoft. Through the Azure OpenAI service, Mercedes-Benz leverages the generative artificial intelligence models of OpenAI, while benefiting from the security and privacy capabilities of Azure. Mercedes-Benz maintains control over computer processes in the background. The beta testers’ voice inputs are stored in the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Cloud, anonymized and then analyzed. The brand would like to point out that responsible use of generative AI solutions is its highest priority.

This initiative is definitely a step towards the future of voice assistants. It could well represent the start of a revolution in the way we interact with the technology embedded in our vehicles.

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