Baidu builds AI into cars so you can distract the kids with text-to-image tools

Drawing flying pandas is useful. But Chinese web giant isn't saying how AI on wheels is practical

China's AI-forward web giant Baidu has delivered on its promise to have its ERNIE large language model (LLM) used in cars, naming carmaker Great Wall Motors and "digital cockpit" creator ECARX as collaborators.

Baidu has described its new pals as "initial exploration partners" for the application of its ERNIE 3.5 model in intelligent cabins, but has offered only scant details of how LLMs and generative AI make cars more … anything.

The Beijing-headquartered tech giant touted "several successful explorations and practical tests of in-vehicle interactions, leveraging the capabilities of LLMs" and said "multiple innovative features have already been validated on mass production vehicle platforms."

Baidu set the expectation that "select features" from ERNIE will begin appearing on mass-produced vehicles from from auto-makers Great Wall Motors, Lynk & Co, and Smart.

Baidu has previously discussed "journey planning, car consultancy, knowledge-based Q&A, and creative drawing" as features in the intelligent cabin.

In case you were wondering, "creative drawing" is a text-to-image app intended to entertain kids and produce very useful pictures. Like this panda.


Baidu's ERNIE 3.5 draws a flying panda – Click to enlarge

The Reg was told parents seeking entertainment or companionship for their kids can have them describe items in a single sentence to be drawn in a few seconds.

Are we there yet?

Be quiet and draw another panda!

Baidu said incorporating ERNIE into cockpits will make the in-vehicle experience more personalized and that its freshly-announced collaborations pave the way for more natural voice interactions.

ECARX offered a more you-snooze-you-lose perspective on integrating AI into cockpits.

"The automotive industry is dramatically changing, and assisted intelligence has become a vital factor for major automotive OEM brands to create differentiation and offer new value propositions," offered the self-described "global mobility tech provider."

ERNIE debuted in March and included the usual quirks and bugs expected of generative AI, in addition to Beijing-style censorship. Upon review, users deduced that its talents lie in activities like generating images and creating Tang dynasty-style poetry. Thus in-car image drawing plays to its strengths.

Version 3.5 was released in late June. Its defining features are Baidu Search and long text summary and Q&A plugin ChatFile, according to Baidu.

"ERNIE 3.5 dramatically boosts training throughput by two-fold and inference throughput by an astonishing 17-fold compared to ERNIE 3.0," said Baidu. “These upgrades will substantially accelerate our model iteration upgrades, reduce training and usage costs, and enhance user experience." ®

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