Car Voice Assistants Could Get Way Better Thanks To The Tech Behind ChatGPT

All aboard the AI hype train. Since OpenAI’s ChatGPT shocked the world last year with its eerily human-like answers to random questions and ability to compose Shakespearean sonnets about farting in seconds — a task that used to take me weeks — practically every company on the planet has announced some kind of strategy leveraging artificial intelligence. 

AI is even headed for your car, in the form of more sophisticated voice assistants built on the large language models underlying generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT. On Tuesday, TomTom (you’re probably familiar with its GPS units) announced a new voice assistant it wants to sell to car companies that’s powered by OpenAI’s tech. 

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We’ve already seen how much more useful something like ChatGPT can be than predecessors like Alexa and Siri. Now that same technological leap is coming to cars. 

The product, which TomTom says could be integrated into a car’s infotainment system, comes by way of a deal with Microsoft, a major OpenAI investor. 

Drivers will be able to “converse naturally with their vehicle,” TomTom says. They’ll also be able to “ask the AI-powered assistant to navigate to a certain location, find specific stops along their route, and vocally control onboard systems to, for instance, turn up the temperature, open windows, or change radio stations.”

Many cars already come with voice assistants that can understand vague inputs like “I’m cold” or entertain gimmicky commands like “tell me a joke.” But even the car industry’s more advanced systems have their limits and often misunderstand what a driver is saying. If voice assistants could understand a broader range of commands and execute on them, that could make driving more convenient and reduce reliance on distracting touchscreens. 

Mercedes-Benz struck a similar deal with Microsoft to bring ChatGPT to its cars in June. It said at the time that drivers would soon be able to ask their cars complex questions and have full-blown conversations. General Motors is reportedly exploring the possibility too. 

It’s probably only a matter of time before Teslas get AI chatbot capability too. Tesla CEO Elon Musk founded an AI firm called xAI that recently launched a sarcastic chatbot called Grok.