Mercedes adds ChatGPT to Features

Mercedes vehicles in the United States will soon receive an additional feature called ChatGPT, enhancing the already luxurious driving experience.

TechCrunch reports that Mercedes will integrate OpenAI’s conversational AI agent into its MBUX infotainment system, although the specific purpose of this integration remains unclear.

Starting on June 16, American owners of models equipped with MBUX will have the option to participate in a beta program that activates the ChatGPT functionality. By simply instructing their car, “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program,” drivers can access the versatile large language model to enhance the car’s conversational abilities.

However, it’s uncertain what practical applications this addition will serve. Cars are designed primarily for driving, navigation, media control, and basic functions, where a voice interface can be useful for ensuring safety and keeping attention on the road.

In contrast, ChatGPT excels in engaging in human-like conversations on various topics and generating new information to sustain the dialogue. It can summarize and synthesize existing content, write or imitate code, or assist with creating wedding vows. But are these tasks drivers would want to perform while driving or even while in the passenger seat?

Mercedes describes the capabilities as follows:

Users will have a voice assistant that not only accepts natural voice commands but can also engage in conversations. Participants who ask the Voice Assistant for details about their destination, suggest a new dinner recipe, or answer a complex question will receive more comprehensive responses while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

Granted, a complex request like “What’s a good independent sandwich shop near my route, within a half-mile of a gas station?” might challenge a traditional voice interface. If there’s no passenger available to look up the information, having this capability could prove helpful. However, it raises questions about whether requesting a dinner recipe while on the road is truly the best use case Mercedes could have envisioned.

As usual, the benefits of this technology seem somewhat theoretical, and it’s unlikely that drivers specifically requested this capability. It’s possible that Mercedes simply wishes to relinquish responsibility for its voice interface service and entrust it to a third party. Notably, the interface prominently displays (if you closely examine the top image) “Powered by ChatGPT in Microsoft AI” in MBUX and the Mercedes Me app, creating a nested doll-like relationship. The details of who is doing what remain unclear.