Volkswagen ChatGPT to gain ‘level 2’ software update later this year

A ‘two-way conversation’ will soon be possible with your new Volkswagen

Steve Fowler in the Volkswagen Golf facelift at CES

Earlier this year we saw (and tried out) Volkswagen’s new ChatGPT-based voice assistance software and now the firm claims it will bring out an updated version which it calls ‘level 2’. For now, the system is based on the user giving the Artificial Intelligence chatbot commands or instructions, but the updated version will allow the car to provide more comprehensive information and even converse back and forth with the user.

Speaking to Auto Express, Luis Medinas, a Project Manager for Volkswagen’s infotainment development said the new ChatGPT system could be implemented in new cars later this year and cars in an existing VW model using VW’s Software 4.0 will be able to use the new tech. That is limited to a small number of ID.4 and ID.5 models and users need to check on their touchscreen to see what version of the software their cars use.

Volkswagen originally announced the new technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas back in January. Volkswagen said that ChatGPT would be available as part of the new-generation infotainment systems in the ID.3, ID.4, ID.5 and ID.7, plus the all-new Tiguan and the forthcoming Passat, as well as in the new facelifted Golf starting from the second quarter of this year.

ChatGPT can be integrated into Volkswagen’s own IDA voice assistant in these models, operated by saying “Hello IDA”, or pressing a button on the steering wheel. VW says there’s no need to create a new account or install a different app. With the planned upgrades, there will be no need to say “Hello IDA”, however, and questions will be followed up by a website link for further information.

Volkswagen isn’t the only car company that will integrate ChatGPT into its cars. DS has revealed its system which can even create quizzes to keep occupants entertained on long journeys.

Working with its partner Cerence Inc. Volkswagen will allow owners to have access to a “constantly growing artificial intelligence database”, while adding ChatGPT to IDA will enable voice operation of the infotainment, navigation and air conditioning, while also answering general knowledge questions. Eventually, the system will be upgraded to answer other questions using intuitive language.

If Volkswagen’s own system cannot answer a question or control a function, it’ll be seamlessly forwarded to AI for a response, and the familiar Volkswagen voice will relay the answer. All questions and answers are deleted immediately, and ChatGPT does not get any access to any vehicle data.

Volkswagen Golf facelift CES - dash

Volkswagen’s own IDA voice control is boosted by Cerence’s Chat Pro system, which includes ChatGPT and other sources to provide what the tech company says are “accurate and relevant responses to nearly every query imaginable.”

"Volkswagen has always democratised technology and made it accessible – this is ingrained in our DNA,” said Kai Grünitz, the VW board member responsible for technical development. “As a result, we are now the first volume manufacturer to make this technology a standard feature in vehicles from the compact segment upwards.”

But does the system work? In Volkswagen’s own demonstration at CES, ChatGPT struggled to understand the question “What is the best car in the world.” It was pre-programmed to admit that it was in a Volkswagen, so would say Volkswagen, but failed to do so and was cut off before announcing something else. Then in our own test of the system, it failed to recognise the same question the first time, giving a completely unrelated answer, while it failed to recognise intuitive language without a break between saying “Hello IDA” and allowing the system to acknowledge it was listening. It can also be programmed to stop listening once a command has been given or question asked, but in our test car it carried on listening, once again confusing itself.

It did answer honestly that it did not have access to listings information when asked when Kylie Minogue would be playing in Las Vegas, currently it’s linked to information like weather, stock market reports, news and sports scores, but is likely to be updated with more data at a later date. Commands related to car functions that did not get forwarded to ChatGPT - such as adjusting the climate control or turning heated seats on - did get dealt with well by the IDA, though.

Would you like to see AI in your next car? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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