The voice assistant in Volkswagen (VW) vehicles which integrates ChatGPT into its cars will be able to have actual back-and-forth dialogue conversations by the middle of the year.

VW debuted its first ChatGPT-powered vehicles at the CES electronics trade fair on Monday (January 8). The automotive giant said the generative AI (genAI) powered vehicles would be available in Europe and North America from early in the second quarter of 2024.

Customers will be able to tell the car anything from “I’m feeling cold” to “I fancy a burger” in order for the GenAI powered voice assistant to respond to the demands accordingly.

Kai Gruenitz, board member for VW’s technical development, told Reuters that drivers will be able to adjust things in their cars without the need for a button. 

Gruenitz told the publication that VW drivers do not want to “manually adjust their seats” and instead want “to use speech dialogue systems”. 

“I think what our customers are really looking for is seamless, intuitive usage of their car,” Gruenitz added.

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Since ChatGPT’s launch into the world in November 2022, the automotive industry has been pushing to get the GenAI program into its vehicles.

In March 2022, General Motors announced it was working on its own virtual assistant for drivers using ChatGPT AI models.

Mercedes has also been looking into using ChatGPT in its vehicles. In June, the German luxury car company downloaded ChatGPT into 900,000 of its vehicles in a test program.

The company said in the future it would like drivers to be able to make dinner reservations from behind the wheel.

Autonomous vehicle development remains difficult

As manufacturers get to grips with implementing AI into their vehicles, the road to autonomous driving has gotten longer than previously thought.

Drivers will not be able to experience roads full of completely autonomous vehicles (AV) for at least another 20 years, according to a report from research company GlobalData. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Research: AV (2023) report states that the path to Level 4 AV and above “is likely to be slow”.

Level 5 autonomy relates to self-driving cars that do not require any human interaction. 

Although there was previous optimism in the industry about achieving the goal of full autonomy quickly, the difficulty of commercialising AVs has been one of the biggest hurdles for the industry’s progression.

“The early hype in expectations, a period that went from approximately 2015 to 2020, has given way to far more realistic positioning as the wide range of challenges to full commercial deployment becomes clearer,” according to GlobalData’s report.