IBM’s Watson May Change the Way You Drive

Collaboration with BMW and IBM to test advanced IoT in automobiles.

BMW i8 Hybrid, ready to start working with Watson to make Vehicles smarter. (Image courtesy of IBM)

BMW i8 Hybrid, ready to start working with Watson to make Vehicles smarter. (Image courtesy of IBM)

The Watson supercomputer is turning its high-tech eye to assisting drivers, as the BMW Group collaborates with IBM to explore how cognitive computing can influence our daily commute.

It’s hoped that Watson’s machine learning capabilities will help find ways for vehicles to learn about their driver’s needs, preferences and driving habits, to improve driver experience, comfort and safety.

Four i8 Hybrid vehicles run on IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform to enable connectivity with Watson. One of the first steps will be to feed the car’s manual into the supercomputer, which will need to demonstrate the ability to answer a drivers’ questions, while checking traffic, weather updates and vehicle status, all without acting as a distraction to the driver.

“Watson is transforming how people interact with the physical world – helping to create safer, more efficient and personal experiences at home, at work and on the road,” said Harriet Green, Global Head of IBM’s Watson IoT business.

“With this agreement, our companies will work together to lay the foundations so that drivers can benefit from Watson’s conversational and machine learning capabilities. Our insight shows that while the car will remain a fixture in personal transportation, the driving experience will change more over the next decade than at any other time of the automobile’s existence.”

This push to new technology follows a recent IBM report, A new relationship – people and cars, which notes that cars will soon connect to the Internet of Things (IoT).

As new mobility options are changing the way we drive, tomorrow’s vehicles won’t be a simple mode of transportation, but a complex mobile data hub of sensors and computers that can capture a wealth of information about the car, the driver, passengers and their surroundings.

Per the IBM report, cars are increasingly becoming able to identify and repair their own issues, socialize with other vehicles and self-configure to the driver’s preferences. Beyond this are new vehicles that can drive autonomously and analyze in their surroundings to avoid potential obstacles.

Technology will continue to change the way we drive, likely for the better. Our cars have advanced significantly since the first Model-T rolled off its assembly line in 1913 and as our lives become ever more connected it’s only natural our vehicles receive the same attention.

The Watson experiments will take place at IBM’s new global headquarters for Watson IoT in Munich, which is set to open in February, 2017.

For more information, visit the webpages for BMW Group, IBM’s Watson IoT and check out an infographic from the recent IBM report mentioned above.