Volkswagen: ChatGPT voice assistant is "more than a gimmick"

Volkswagen Golf GTI interior voice assistant

Updated Golf, shown at CES, brings several interior tweaks, including return of physical buttons

New functionality is designed to allow more intuitive conversations with the in-car voice assistant

The updated Volkswagen Golf, to be revealed in a matter of days, is equipped with a ChatGPT voice assistant that can be used to control various vehicle functions and provide information and entertainment. 

To be rolled out across the Volkswagen line-up, the new system is designed to be more “conversational” and “natural” than the current in-house voice assistant. 

It can turn the heating up when a passenger says “I’m cold” or find a nearby shop if they say “I need bread” but can also provide more extensive information and entertainment functions, for example reading out detailed dinner recipes or children’s stories on the move. 

The move comes as Volkswagen rethinks its approach to interior design for its next-generation cars, including the Golf, with a focus on reintroducing physical, simple switchgear to boost utility. 

Asked why it’s introducing a new voice-control function in light of that approach, technical development boss Kai Grünitz told Autocar: “In China, they want to do everything with the speech dialogue system – adjust their seats, open the tailgate. In the [US], they want to have huge switches with a great feeling to the touch and feel, and in Europe something in between.

“We will see how the customer demands will change in the next month or years; we’re prepared to do both worlds.

“For me, it’s more than a gimmick. We know from our studies of home systems how you use your [Amazon] Alexa, for example, or your [Amazon] Echo, and you can have the same convenience and seamless interaction with your vehicle.”

In response to the suggestion that some users might have concerns about sharing data with their car in this way, Grünitz said: “You will agree to the terms of use like you do with your smartphone. If you don’t want to use it, you just say, and then there’s no data exchange.”

He said that between 70 and 80% of Volkswagen’s EV customers choose to be “online” in this way and said there was a “challenge to convince the customers, with functionality, that this is a great function for daily use”.

Source: Autocar

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