Mercedes-Benz Experiments With Adding ChatGPT to Car Voice Assistant MBUX
Mercedes-Benz has begun incorporating OpenAI’s ChatGPT into its MBUX vehicular voice assistant as part of a three-month pilot program. The generative AI chatbot will be accessible to about 900,000 U.S. customers, with ChatGPt embedded into MBUX through Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service.
Mercedes describes the ChatGPT test as a way to make MBUX more flexible and responsive to casual language. The experience will seemingly be like having a vocal conversation with ChatGPT while driving, supplemented by the AI’s control of a vehicle’s navigation, environment, and entertainment. Mercedes has relied on automotive AI developer Cerence to support MBUX for several years, renewing that deal as part of MBUX’s upgrade in 2020. The update added Cerence’s implicit command understanding, multi-seat phone calls, and voice biometrics technology to identify different drivers and adjust the car’s seat position, temperature, and media based on their preferences. Cerence is working on its own generative AI projects, and how the ChatGPT pilot, if successful, might change things isn’t clear.
“The integration of ChatGPT with Microsoft in our controlled cloud environment is a milestone on our way to making our cars the center of our customers’ digital lives. Our beta program boosts the existing Hey Mercedes functions such as navigation queries, weather requests and others with the capabilities of ChatGPT,” chief technology officer for development procurement for Mercedes-Benz Markus Schäfer explained. “This way, we aim to support conversations with natural dialogues and follow-up questions. Our customers can always rely on us to ensure the best possible protection of their data privacy. Everything is under one big goal: Redefining the relationship with your Mercedes.”
ChatGPT becoming part of the MBUX infotainment system means it will shift from a largely text-oriented chatbot to a mainly vocal AI assistant enhancement conversing with drivers audibly. Mercedes owners can check if they are eligible and sign up on the Mercedes me app or simply by telling the car’s voice assistant, “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program.”
Mercedes linking ChatGPT to MBUX through Azure OpenAI Service brings along some of the perks of Microsft’s infrastructure. For instance, Mercedes highlighted Azure’s data privacy safeguards in the announcement. That said, Mercedes also stated that voice command data will be anonymized and stored in the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Cloud for analysis. Voicebot founder Bret Kinsella pointed out in our Synthedia newsletter that questions about hallucinations by ChatGPT giving people bad information, an obvious source of potential concern, stood out by its absence.
“Interestingly, Mercedes’ announcement did not include the typical disclaimers around incorrect information known as hallucinations or the potential for what is often called unsafe content,” Kinsella wrote. “Many brands today are concerned about the potential for incorrect or inappropriate responses from ChatGPT. Mercedes is taking a risk that other brands will closely watch. With that said, Mercedes has likely implemented its own set of guardrails to reduce the risk of inappropriate responses. This is a key point to look for in future statements by Mercedes executives about the program results. Did they implement more extensive guardrails, and how well did they perform?”