Cars with AI in 2024: Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz Join Tesla at the Forefront

Key Takeaways

  • In the decade of AI, automakers are racing to put new tech in cars
  • Tesla was the first, but VW and Mercedes-Benz are all-in too
  • Hands-off driving and ChatGPT voice assistants are already here, with more to come

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Last updated May 24, 2024

There’s a massive transition happening before our eyes, but it’s one that is getting harder to detect by the day: the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). We’re taking a close look at a rapid change that’s already transforming the auto industry: cars with AI. In 2024, three leaders are taking bold steps to put AI in cars: Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen. Here’s how the big three are putting machine learning into the driver’s seat.

Tesla: Pioneering Autonomous Driving

cars with AI - Tesla Autopilot in 2024

Tesla has been a household name in the world of electric vehicles and autonomous driving since first launching Full Self-Driving (FSD) in 2020. The company’s Autopilot system is one of the most advanced driver assistance systems available today. Utilizing NVIDIA-powered AI, Tesla’s FSD technology aims to enable fully autonomous driving, allowing cars to navigate complex environments with minimal human intervention. 

In 2024, all Tesla models include Autopilot, which features limited AI-powered autonomous driving, such as interstate cruising and lane changes. Tesla’s Full-Self Driving package is an $8,000 add-on, and includes the following capabilities: 

  • Navigate on Autopilot
  • Auto Lane Change
  • Autopark
  • Summon
  • Smart Summon
  • Autosteer on city streets
  • Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control

Tesla continues to lead the pack by constantly updating its AI capabilities through over-the-air software updates, enhancing everything from traffic sign recognition to full autonomous navigation​​. But something has changed in recent years: Tesla is no longer alone in the automotive AI space.

Here’s a look at the most serious competition today.

Mercedes-Benz: A Leader in Automotive AI

cars with AI in 2024: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is making significant strides in integrating AI into its vehicles. In fact, in 2023, Mercedes-Benz became the first automaker to gain U.S. approval for Level 3 autonomous driving. Yes, they even beat Tesla to the historic milestone. 

The Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot system represents the world’s first Level 3 system certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE. Level 3 autonomous driving systems can manage most aspects of driving, including monitoring the environment, without human intervention. These are hands-off driving systems on certain roads.

Drive Pilot is powered by a spectrum of sensors, from LiDAR to rear window cameras and microphones. Who’s a major partner in Mercedes’ AI development? You guessed it: NVIDIA. 

AI-Powered Multimedia

cars with AI in 2024 - Mercedes Drive Pilot

It’s not just autonomous driving that Mercedes is after. Now, Mercedes is bringing AI into infotainment and multimedia in the cabin. At the heart of the automaker’s AI innovation is the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) Virtual Assistant. Debuting at CES 2024, this assistant leverages generative AI to deliver a highly personalized driving experience. The new system, integrated with the Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS), uses advanced 3D graphics powered by the Unity game engine, making the interactions more natural and visually engaging​​.

Mercedes-Benz has also integrated ChatGPT into its vehicles, enhancing the capabilities of the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant. This integration allows for more natural and expansive conversations, handling a broader range of topics and providing more natural language interactions​. In other words, Mercedes doesn’t want your voice assistant to sound like a GPS giving navigation instructions. 

But it’s not just luxury cars getting into artificial intelligence. Another German automaker is now producing new cars with AI at a much lower price point.

Volkswagen Brings ChatGPT to Cars

cars with ChatGPT - Volkswagen

Volkswagen is set to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT into its vehicles, starting from the second quarter of 2024. This integration, announced at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, marks Volkswagen as the first mainstream traditional automaker to standardize ChatGPT across a broad range of models. 

ChatGPT is an advanced AI language model developed by OpenAI that generates human-like text based on the input it receives. Powered by NVIDIA hardware, it utilizes deep learning techniques to understand and respond to a wide range of queries, providing accurate and contextually relevant information. Anyone can try ChatGPT for free at chat.openai.com.

The AI-based chatbot will be embedded within Volkswagen’s IDA voice assistant, which is activated by saying “Hello IDA” at any time. The ChatGPT integration will be available in various models, including the electric ID.3, ID.4, ID.5, ID.7, as well as the upcoming Tiguan, Passat, and Golf​. The Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale today.

Volkswagen says that ChatGPT will enhance the functionality of the IDA voice assistant by enabling more natural conversations. Users will be able to ask a wide range of questions, from navigation assistance and climate control to general questions. Want to know about the history of the town you happen to be driving through? Soon, you’ll be able to ask your Volkswagen.

ChatGPT does not access vehicle data, and all interactions are securely deleted after processing. AI and personal privacy are growing concerns for more drivers as cameras and microphones become more commonplace inside the cabin.

Cars with AI Are Already Here

cars with NVIDIA AI

Like it or not, more automakers are bringing AI to new cars in 2024 and beyond. Privacy concerns are not to be overlooked, but drivers have much to gain from newfound AI superpowers. From improving vehicle safety through predictive analytics to offering seamless and intuitive in-car experiences, the potential is limitless. Companies like Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen are at the forefront of this revolution, setting new standards for what we can expect from our vehicles.

In a time of strange AI art, artificial song generators, and unsettling deep fakes, it’s comforting to see the positive side of artificial intelligence in our lives. AI is making our cars smarter, our drives safer, and our journeys more enjoyable.  

One thing is certain: the future is getting weird!

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