TomTom and Microsoft team up to bring generative AI to automobiles

TomTom just announced a “fully integrated, AI-powered conversational automotive assistant” which should start popping up in dashboard infotainment platforms in the near-ish future. The company has issued some bold claims for the AI, saying it’ll offer “more sophisticated voice interaction” and allow users to converse naturally to navigate, find stops along a route, control onboard systems, open windows and just about anything else you find yourself doing while driving.

The company, best known for GPS platforms, partnered up with Microsoft to develop this AI assistant. The technology leverages OpenAI’s large language models, in addition to Microsoft products like Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Cognitive Services. Cosmos DB is a multi-model database and Cognitive Services is a set of APIs for use in AI applications, so this should be a capable assistant that draws from the latest advancements.

TomTom promises that the voice assistant will integrate into a variety of interfaces offered by major automobile manufacturers, stating that the auto company will retain ownership of its branding. So this could start showing up in cars from a wide variety of makers. The company hasn’t announced any definitive partnerships with known vehicle manufacturers, but the technology will be integrated into TomTom’s proprietary Digital Cockpit, an open and modular in-vehicle infotainment platform.

This isn’t the first time a company has tried to stuff an LLM inside of a car. Back in June, Mercedes announced a three-month beta program that incorporated ChatGPT models into select vehicles. This tool also leveraged Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service. TomTom is showing off the AI at CES in January, so we’ll know more about how it actually works at that point.

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