Volkswagen Leads the AI Revolution at CES 2024

The annual CES Tech Expo in Las Vegas, held in January, once again served as the epicentre of technological innovation, showcasing the latest advancements across various industries. The Consumer Electronics Show, CES, is an annual event that draws in crowds of tech enthusiasts, industry insiders, and curious onlookers. The Expo is spread across the Las Vegas Convention Centre, hotel expo halls, and event centres, taking over the city with a dazzling array of cutting-edge technologies. From talking screens to self-driving cars, flying vehicles to self-adjusting audio speakers, and ChatGPT-enabled smart home appliances, CES 2024 was a testament to the rapid evolution of technology. This year, one of the standout moments was Volkswagen’s announcement of its foray into AI technology, particularly the integration of ChatGPT into its in-car voice assistant, IDA.

One of the overarching themes at this year’s CES Expo was artificial intelligence being incorporated into various products. Generative AI played a prominent role in reshaping user experiences through its ability to produce high-quality text, imagery, audio, and videos in seconds. In particular, many car manufacturers could be seen presenting their latest expansions to introduce AI into their vehicles, with Volkswagen emerging as the industry trailblazer after announcing its partnership with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. 

Source: Volkswagen

This collaboration marked Volkswagen’s commitment to becoming the first global automaker to introduce an advanced voice assistant powered by artificial intelligence. The new ChatGPT-enabled IDA voice assistant, expected to be released in the second quarter of 2024, promises to revolutionise the in-car experience for Volkswagen owners. The initial rollout will include Volkswagen’s electric vehicle range, including the ID.3, ID.4, ID.5, and ID.7, along with the new Tiguan, Passat, and facelifted Golf hatch. Through this development, Volkswagen aims to elevate its vehicles’ voice control capabilities beyond conventional functions, allowing users to engage in natural, conversational interactions.

The German car manufacturer’s commitment to seamless integration means no need for users to create new accounts or install additional apps. The voice assistant seamlessly prioritises and executes functions or queries, demonstrating a user-friendly and secure approach. Furthermore, the controls to activate the enhanced IDA voice assistant have been paired back, with drivers only needing to press a button on the steering wheel or say, “Hello, IDA.” 

Partnering with Cerence Inc., Volkswagen is using the Cerence Chat Pro technology as the foundation of its ChatGPT integration. As a result, the voice command system not only retains the ability to control infotainment, adjust climate settings, and set destinations through natural voice commands, but the enhanced ChatGPT capability now allows users to ask questions, discuss topics ranging from the meaning of life to dinner recipes, and even place online orders – all through seamless voice interaction.

Source: Volkswagen

However, privacy concerns have surfaced regarding the safety of integrating this AI technology into vehicles. Notably, consumer advocates targeted BMW’s addition of Amazon’s Alexa into their new models as the ‘CES 2024’s worst device’. This came after warnings of the potential misuse of the device’s tracking ability, urging the manufacturer to create a more responsible AI deployment. In light of these concerns, Volkswagen has ensured that it will maintain a high level of data protection with the addition of AI technology in its vehicles. To do so, the brand has confirmed that all questions and answers are immediately deleted, meaning ChatGPT will not have access to any vehicle data. 

With the potential for widespread adoption across various models, Volkswagen’s announcement at CES 2024 to incorporate ChatGPT into its vehicles positions the company at the forefront of AI innovation in the automotive industry. With this initial technological development, the German manufacturer shows the beginning of delivering sophisticated user-vehicle interactions. As AI redefines the industrial landscape, Volkswagen sets the stage for a new era of pushing boundaries and embracing the future of intelligent mobility.