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March 13, 2023updated 20 Mar 2023 3:12pm

GM bringing ChatGPT-like assistant to its cars

The in-car chat tool hasn't been given a name yet but is likely to include a voice element and be built on a custom car-specific layer.

By Ryan Morrison

General Motors (GM) is developing a new in-car assistant that has been built using the technology behind the massively popular ChatGPT from OpenAI. The digital aid would be able to replace the owner’s manual, integrate with scheduling and even understand or predict a need to open garage doors or disable alarms.

GM says it is developing an in-car assistant that is built on foundation models built by OpenAI (Photo: Ascannio/Shutterstock)
GM says it is developing an in-car assistant that is built on foundation models built by OpenAI. (Photo by Ascannio/Shutterstock)

Since its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT has become one of the fastest-growing consumer products of all time, reaching an average of 100 million active monthly users in January alone. It has also seen some of the largest companies in the world pivot and re-focus on integrating generative AI into their products. This includes recent announcements from Microsoft with Bing Chat, Salesforce integrating OpenAI technology into its CRM in the form of EinsteinGPT and a wealth of start-ups creating new sectors and industries.

In a report first published by Semafor, insiders at GM say the move to integrate ChatGPT with in-car computers is part of a broader collaboration with Microsoft. While ChatGPT is built by OpenAI, Microsoft has a close partnership with the start-up including a $10bn investment and access to the underlying models for its Azure cloud platform.

GM has been working with Microsoft since 2021 to more quickly commercialise driverless vehicles. This includes a partnership with Cruise, the automaker’s majority-owned autonomous vehicle unit and an exclusive cloud agreement with Azure. The latest update appears to extend that to the wider GM fleet.

“ChatGPT is going to be in everything,” declared GM VP Scott Miller, explaining that it will be used to program garage door codes, integrate schedules with a calendar, track and report on vehicle maintenance issues and help drivers understand their cars.

“This shift is not just about one single capability like the evolution of voice commands, but instead means that customers can expect their future vehicles to be far more capable and fresh overall when it comes to emerging technologies,” a spokesperson for the company said during an interview with Reuters.

Expanding on smart voice tools

The exact nature of the AI integration isn’t clear. It doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a chat tool or voice interface, but rather that the foundation models used to power ChatGPT, creating generated text and analysing inputs will be used to add advanced AI functionality to vehicles.

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GM is said to be working on a “car-specific layer” that would sit on top of the foundation models although how this might work, what it might be called or how they’d handle the risk of AI generating false information hasn’t been revealed.

There have been multiple attempts to make vehicles “smarter” recently including through car-friendly layers to smartphones like Apple’s CarPlay or AndroidAuto. Google also has a car “assistant” that lets drivers control climate controls with their voice. Apple is also working on closer integration with certain vehicles through CarPlay.

Cloud technology from companies like Microsoft and Google is helping automakers keep some of that functionality in-house.

GM will use Azure, which has access to all of the OpenAI models including ChatGPT, GPT-3.5 and image tool DALL-E. Miller said the AI assistant will push things beyond simple voice commands and put more of a brain into the vehicle than current AI tools such as Siri and Google Assistant.

One use example could see the AI trained on the owner’s manual for that specific vehicle, as well as more general maintenance and repair techniques. The driver could then ask it how to change a tire if they get a flat, or have it play a generated video or photos with step-by-step instructions on updating firmware.

Read more: OpenAI’s GPT-4 ‘to launch next week’ – Microsoft Germany

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