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Mercedes Teams Up With ChatGPT to Improve How Drivers Talk to Their Cars

The three-month beta program will complement the existing Mercedes-Benz voice feature with more natural dialogue and follow-up questions.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
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The "Hey Mercedes" US beta program is expected to last three months.

Mercedes-Benz Group

Mercedes-Benz drivers can now participate in a three-month beta program that integrates the ChatGPT artificial intelligence bot into the voice control of its vehicles. Beginning Friday, US drivers can choose to opt in to the feature, which is available in over 900,000 vehicles that are equipped with the MBUX infotainment system.

The program is a collaboration with Microsoft, as it uses the company's cloud and AI program.

"The integration of ChatGPT with Microsoft in our controlled cloud environment is a milestone on our way to making our cars the center of our customers' digital lives," Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz Group chief technology officer, said in a statement. "Our beta program boosts the existing Hey Mercedes functions such as navigation queries, weather requests and others with the capabilities of ChatGPT."

The program aims to support conversations with natural dialogues and follow-up questions, Schäfer said. The current voice assistant already offers sports and weather updates and can answer questions about the driver's surroundings or control their smart home technology.

ChatGPT is expected to complement that voice control by leveraging a large language model to improve natural language understanding and expand the topics to which it can respond.

"Soon, participants who ask the Voice Assistant for details about their destination, to suggest a new dinner recipe, or to answer a complex question, will receive a more comprehensive answer -- while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road," Mercedes-Benz said in its statement.

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Screenshots showing the ChatGPT beta program on the Mercedes me connect app.

Mercedes-Benz Group

To join, you can use the Mercedes me app, or use the voice command, "Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program" while in your vehicle.

Voice command data will be collected and stored in the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Cloud, where it is anonymized and analyzed. Mercedes-Benz developers will then use findings from the three-month beta program to set priorities and improve the voice assistant. 

"Our customers can always rely on us to ensure the best possible protection of their data privacy," Schäfer said.

Microsoft has invested billions in OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, and has been rapidly rolling out generative AI tools and features for its software and other products that are powered by tech from the company. Microsoft also recently reached a deal to let the AI powerhouse use Bing search engine data to improve ChatGPT

At least the Mercedes-Microsoft collaboration seems to make more sense than some recently announced uses of ChatGPT, such as holding conversations with trees.

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