Mercedes Launches ‘Dialogue Partner’ Voice Assistant

Reuters | January 9, 2024

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By Abhirup Roy and Victoria Waldersee

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Mercedes-Benz launched a new virtual assistant at the CES electronics trade fair on Monday capable of providing context-based suggestions and engaging in dialogue with users, signalling another step forward in the use of artificial intelligence in cars.

The assistant can speak in different tones of various emotions and ask intelligent questions to clarify what exactly is being asked, the company said.

“The car is your dialogue partner. You can ask questions, have a conversation, be productive,” Mercedes’ chief technology officer, Markus Schaefer, said at a press roundtable in Las Vegas.

The assistant will be rolled out in vehicles including the new concept CLA class, an all-electric take on the carmaker’s smaller four-door model, premiering in North America at the trade show.

With electric-vehicle hardware less complex and variable than that of combustion-engine cars, carmakers are looking to set themselves apart on their software offerings.

Voice assistant technology in cars is becoming increasingly sophisticated, from the use of personalised avatars to generative AI technology.

Volkswagen presented its first vehicles featuring a voice assistant that integrates ChatGPT technology on Monday, enabling drivers to have researched content read to them during their drive.

Volkswagen said its assistant would be able to engage in dialogue with users by mid-year, and would remember previous questions and respond accordingly.

Mercedes-Benz said an added feature of its new voice assistant was a plausibility check for the responses it provides. It will check recommendations via data in the cloud and customers’ self-reporting when, for example, a recommended restaurant or shop has closed down.

“We feel that we have an obligation if we put something in the car that you can trust the information,” Schaefer said.


(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Las Vegas and Victoria Waldersee in Berlin; Editing by Matthew Lewis)