Technology has transformed the automobile and the driving experience. Each year, in-car technology seems to offer something better, cooler and perhaps even hands-free to aid drivers on their trips. Through the years, technology has evolved from simple radios to cassette players to CD players and now to touchscreen infotainment centers that are compatible with smartphones.
Vehicles even offer drivers the option to speak with a built-in AI assistant that obeys simple voice commands. Now manufacturers might be looking at ChatGPT as the future of automotive tech. Here’s what dealerships need to know about ChatGPT and how it could revolutionize the drive.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a chat function technology that’s designed to be conversational. According to OpenAI, ChatGPT’s design allows it “…to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.”
Currently, users can try out ChatGPT for free to explore the new technology. OpenAI is still in the research phase of this technology, and consumers might use the opportunity to feel out the future of AI. As the technology is still being perfected, it’s not woven into our daily lives. However, ChatGPT could offer unique possibilities for car brands who want to personalize the driving experience.
Some brands like Mercedes-Benz offer a virtual assistant that responds to basic commands much like Siri or Alexa. However, ChatGPT is unique in that it is conversational; while Siri, Alexa and other standard virtual assistants tend to be more limited in responses or even commands, ChatGPT could offer a broader scope of capabilities.
The AI model offers a more intelligent and seemingly realistic design. While the ‘chatbot’ is a common feature via websites and especially for commerce-based sites to engage customers and answer questions, this type of ‘bot isn’t so prominent in car technology.
How Could ChatGPT Improve the Drive?
As ChatGPT is still in the research phase of its design, the tech isn’t being implemented into driving technology or even in homes (or websites). Again, though, the technology is free to test out, and consumers and businesses might explore its current capabilities and design.
As a conversational chatbot or chat technology model, the potential for ChatGPT within the automotive sector is vast. For car manufacturers, the technology could be used as a more intelligent customer service chatbot via brand websites. Dealerships also could utilize this chat function online, too.
In the vehicle, a more intelligent and conversational chatbot could allow drivers to ask about car diagnostics and find the answer immediately. Imagine asking a chatbot why the ‘check engine’ light has illuminated and have a logical and correct answer. Drivers could ask for precise directions to a location, ask the chatbot to find specific information about detours and perhaps (if the technology allows) to use this intelligent ‘bot to find out about an accident up ahead.
The Technology Isn’t Perfect Yet
OpenAI includes a section dedicated to ChatGPT’s known limitations. As this technology is still being perfected, there are issues with its capabilities. According to OpenAI, ChatGPT sometimes gives nonsensical answers or responses. It also sometimes requires the user to rephrase a request in order to provide an accurate response. OpenAI also notes that the technology can be “verbose” and repetitive.
In addition, OpenAI explains that the technology also currently ‘guesses’ about the user’s meaning related to a request; the site further explains that instead of asking for more information, the tech might be making assumptions related to request meaning. ChatGPT also currently doesn’t always respond correctly to commands that are deemed inappropriate.
However, all these issues are part of the testing and research phase. Signing up to explore the technology allows consumers the opportunity to provide feedback on the technology and report quirks they find while using ChatGPT.
Chatbots and Car Dealerships
While ChatGPT isn’t ready to be utilized as a go-to chatbot or technology on websites, car dealerships could explore it to better understand how it works. Dealerships that are interested in updating their website also might explore current AI chatbot models that can simplify and improve the online car shopping experience for customers.
Chatbots are programmed to meet the most frequent requests of customers, to answer frequently asked questions and to provide basic data, too. However, AI does have limitations. If a customer types a question that the AI cannot answer or phrases the question oddly, the chatbot could provide the customer with an incorrect answer or no answer at all.
While chatbots can simplify the online experience, not all customers like them. Again, limitations of the technology could result in unanswered questions or provide a list of unrelated links or options to the customer. For this reason, some customers simply prefer to deal with a human.
Chat Functions without an AI ‘Bot
While some businesses utilize AI as part of their online customer service chat, others prefer to have their online chat controlled by an actual human. Dealerships that want to provide online customer service to their website visitors could offer a dedicated chat function online that allows the customer to ask questions of a sales team member or a customer service representative.
This technology allows the customer to have their questions addressed remotely and allows them more freedom to gather information online when shopping for a car. Chat functions enable customers to find out if a model is available, ask about the price of a specific vehicle, schedule a test drive and more.
AI on the Drive
Chatbots are a common feature via company websites and they can aid the shopping experience when customers are buying products online. Car dealerships might use AI-driven chat functions or dedicate a sales team member as the online chat representative for customers visiting the website.
What about AI in the car? While there aren’t ‘chatbots’ that can currently converse with drivers, many vehicles offer an AI virtual assistant or they provide an infotainment system that’s compatible with smartphones and Siri (or other assistants).
On the road, drivers might be able to dictate chat messages for hands-free communication or even ask their virtual assistant to change a radio station. This type of technology can help minimize distractions on the road and ensure that drivers never have to touch their phone or fidget with the radio or touchscreen.
Electric car manufacturers also integrate AI technology into the actual drive or mechanics of the drive. For example, some Tesla models included self-driving software. However, the brand has recalled models with specific self-driving software features. Tesla also offers autopilot options and the company states on its website that autopilot should be used with “active driver supervision” and notes that the autopilot feature does not allow for the vehicle to be autonomous.
Is Self-Driving the Future?
How far will AI accelerate the drive? Will self-driving vehicles dominate the roadways? AI domination could happen within the vehicle, but there are so many unknowns about self-driving vehicles. In order for humans to abandon the driver’s seat, AI needs to be perfect and without error.
Self-driving vehicles will need to anticipate every road sign, every pedestrian and every single vehicle on the road. Driving demands constant diligence and vigilance. Drivers must keep eyes on the road ahead, be aware of cars in their blind spot and note the vehicle behind them, too. In addition, drivers need to be able to react immediately.
An AI takeover in the vehicle has many unknowns. While a self-driving future could be possible, some drivers aren’t even comfortable with electric vehicles; range anxiety is real, and not every driver wants to manage the plug to power the drive. Motivating drivers who enjoy being in control behind the wheel to relinquish their seat to AI could make the move towards an autonomous vehicle a bit more of an undertaking.
Be Open to Explore the Possibilities
Technology helps power the drive in modern vehicles. Infotainment systems are compatible with smartphones to ensure that drivers can dictate commands to a virtual assistant and control aspects of the drive without touching their phones or any screen. Some vehicle brands offer their own AI powered assistant.
Dealerships know that technology is constantly changing and improving the drive, too. While chatbots can provide simplified communication on websites to make the car shopping experience easier, these ‘bots also could be the future of in-car technology, too.
While the autonomous vehicle and an in-car conversational chatbot might be a future consideration, how far in the future might be anyone’s guess. Dealerships who want to be on the forefront of upcoming technology, though, can explore ChatGPT to learn how a chatbot is evolving to become more intelligent, conversational and maybe even more realistic.
This technology is still in the test stage, but exploring this new chat model can help make ChatGPT better and provide developers with feedback to help improve the design of ‘bot. Ask questions, try to stump the technology or simply see how far this unique AI has evolved. Perhaps in the future, all vehicles will chat with drivers or maybe AI will be the driver and humans will simply be the passengers who are along for the ride.