Next Stop for ChatGPT: Automobiles

Next Stop for ChatGPT

ChatGPT has been given the wheel and will soon prove what it’s ready for in your car.

Launched with significant fanfare, ChatGPT has set the world on fire with its astronomical potential. From streamlining the art of writing to turbocharging human creativity, ChatGPT has consistently lived up to expectations—for the most part—since it hit the scene. While the way forward for the technology is still cloaked in speculation, luxury automotive brand Mercedes-Benz has illuminated a four-wheeled future for it by joining forces with tech behemoth Microsoft. With the integration of ChatGPT into Mercedes-Benz cars in the United States, the two companies have accomplished an industry first—the inaugural in-car application of ChatGPT.

Before ChatGPT’s integration, Mercedes-Benz drivers were able to give short voice commands, such as adjusting the in-car temperature, after saying “Hey, Mercedes” without lifting a finger. Evidently, Mercedes-Benz isn’t resting on its laurels but is dreaming bigger. With a firm belief in the capabilities of ChatGPT, the manufacturer is poised to translate its ambitious vision into reality using this technology.

Mercedes-Benz’s in-car ChatGPT system

More than just responding to simple commands, Mercedes-Benz’s in-car ChatGPT system can handle conversations that are more intuitively human. Given its ability to remember the context of ongoing conversations, the system facilitates interactive dialogues with the driver, particularly lending a sense of companionship to drivers on the road alone.

The application of ChatGPT also grants MBUX—Mercedes-Benz’s vehicular voice assistant—the capacity to handle more than just the drive. By communicating with other applications, the system can perform other duties like booking dinner reservations, buying movie tickets and more.

How will ChatGPT transform the automotive industry?

While still in its embryonic stage, ChatGPT’s potential is undeniable. With so much up its sleeve, it’s virtually palpable that this burgeoning technology will instigate immense shifts in the automotive industry. Here’s how we expect these transformations to unfold:

Provide more advanced traffic updates

Despite its origins as a language model, ChatGPT is proficient not only at responding to written prompts but also at data analysis. Thanks to its language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can interpret and provide relevant insights from traffic data, discerning patterns and crafting data visualizations.

By merging with other types of data, including connected car data (data generated by vehicles that are equipped with internet connectivity and onboard sensors, including information such as vehicle acceleration, engine performance and other operational parameters), we can secure more advanced and precise updates on traffic conditions to make navigation effortless.

Enable easier operation

Making sense of a car can be intimidating, particularly for novices who just got their hands on their first set of wheels. As you pore over the user’s manual for the umpteenth time, you might start to wish for the convenience of a car that could answer all your inquiries. After all, no one or nothing knows a car better than the car itself (and perhaps its maker). Meanwhile, without owning one of the anthropomorphic cars from Pixar’s 2006 comedy film Cars, where talking cars and other vehicles make up the entire population, you’ll need something to actualize your vision. That “something”—as we’ve established now—is ChatGPT.

Imagine a scenario where you need to slot your vehicle into a tight space sandwiched between two cars in a busy parking lot. To the best of your recollection, your car is equipped with a parking sensor system, yet the specifics of activating it have escaped you. Instead of reaching out to your car manufacturer for immediate guidance, you could consult your in-car ChatGPT system. The intelligent system will guide you meticulously through the process, from understanding the sensor system to finally enabling it. It may even end by reassuring you that you can make it.

In short, armed with its sophisticated natural language processing capability, ChatGPT can articulate intricate ideas in simple and comprehensible language, ensuring a hassle-free ride for every driver.

Make the road safer

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), road traffic crashes claim an estimated 1.3 million lives annually worldwide. The roots of this staggering figure are multifaceted and complex, encompassing a variety of risk factors. These include but are not limited to distracted driving (largely due to mobile phone usage), alcohol-impaired driving and operating vehicles that fail to meet safety standards.

Despite the assertion that the latest vehicles available for sale in the United States are unparalleled in safety and sophistication, astounding data from the U.S. Department of Transportation paint a less comforting picture. In 2022 alone, a sobering estimate of 42,795 individuals tragically lost their lives in motor vehicle-related accidents nationwide.

In response to the startling global traffic fatality toll, the United Nations General Assembly has handed down the bold objective of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2030. While the feasibility of reaching this goal within the designated timeline remains in the air, there’s optimism that ChatGPT could edge us closer to the finish line.

From a practical perspective, driving on highways and byways requires adherence to traffic rules. The in-car ChatGPT system can act as a co-pilot, offering timely reminders of various vehicular regulations, such as obeying speed limits, ensuring seat belt use and discouraging mobile phone use behind the wheel. Implementing such strategies could potentially distance drivers from traffic accidents or, at the very least, traffic ticket issuance.

On the other hand, ChatGPT enables myriad hands-free operations for drivers, handling tasks from pausing a song to closing an app. This eliminates the need for drivers to divert their focus from the road, thereby enhancing vehicular control and improving road safety.

The potential that ChatGPT holds for the automotive industry is undeniably profound. But while car manufacturers race against time and each other to make the most of the technology, it’s crucial to remember that every innovation comes with a cost. For ChatGPT, the cost could be our cherished privacy. Moreover, operator errors, such as giving overly brief or vague prompts, and inadequate training data could result in inaccurate responses from ChatGPT. These oversights and flaws, although seemingly insignificant, could lead to grave outcomes on the road.

Is the introduction of ChatGPT to automobiles the next feather in the cap for the automotive industry or a cause for alarm? The ball, car manufacturers, is squarely in your court.

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Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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