Volkswagen ups its (artificial) intelligence. Just not for us

Damien O’Carroll
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Volkswagen has brought more intelligence to its latest models with the introduction ChatGPT to its latest generation infotainment system in Europe.

First introduced in the ID.7 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2024, the company says the AI-based research tool is now available in all new vehicles in the all-electric ID. family with software version 4.0 and higher, as well as new Golf, Tiguan and Passat models with the infotainment package or IDA voice assistant options.

Accessed using the voice assistant, Volkswagen says the new system offers a range of options that go "far beyond the voice control previously available', with drivers now able to have search results read out to them, as well as interact with their car using natural language.

"Volkswagen has a long tradition of democratising technologies," says Kai Grünitz, Member of the Brand Board of Management responsible for Development.

VW's ChatGPT system was first introduced in the ID.7 at CES in January.

"As a volume manufacturer, we make these technologies accessible to large numbers of people. By seamlessly integrating ChatGPT into the backend of our voice assistant, we are now offering drivers the opportunity to use this artificial intelligence on a daily basis, thus underlining how innovative our products are."

Only if those drivers live in Europe, however, as the system is still reportedly only under consideration for the rest of the world. Except, of course, in this part of the world where no Volkswagen vehicles currently have any kind of connectivity, with the local distributor saying it is still a couple of years away yet.

While current Volkswagen models already allow users to control the infotainment, navigation and climate control systems using a voice assistant, the introduction of ChatGPT has significantly expanded its capabilities with the AI able to provide information on tourist attractions, report on past sports events or even help solve maths problems.

The company says the system works intuitively, and the driver simply talks to the assistant in natural language, with no need for them to take their eyes off the road.

As far as privacy goes, Volkswagen says the query will only be forwarded to ChatGPT if it cannot be answered by its own system and at no point does ChatGPT gain access to vehicle data.

Questions and answers are deleted immediately in order to ensure optimal data protection and the online voice assistant can be deactivated either in the settings area of the Volkswagen app or in the infotainment system’s privacy settings.

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