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BMW Group uses IBM Watson to explore personalised driver systems

BMW and IBM are putting research teams together to investigate the use of IBM Watson to personalise the driver experience

BMW Group is moving a team of its researchers to IBM’s global headquarters for Watson internet of things (IoT) in Germany to test out conversational interfaces for drivers to control cars.

The operation in Munich – which is also home to BMW’s headquarters – is a collaboration facility and part of IBM’s global investment of $3bn to bring Watson cognitive computing to the IoT.

A team of BMW Group engineers will work alongside IBM’s own team of researchers, developers and consultants.

Harriet Green, global head of IBM’s Watson IoT business, said: “With this agreement, our companies will work together to lay the foundations so that BMW’s 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 in the automobile’s existence.”

IBM will locate four BMW i8 hybrid sports cars at its Munich Watson IoT headquarters, where it will run prototypes on IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform to demonstrate interfaces between cars and drivers.

The car’s manual will be ingested into Watson so that drivers can ask questions about the vehicle in natural language while still being able to focus on the road. It will also incorporate data from the Weather Company, an IBM business that provides weather information to businesses, as well as real-time updates about route, traffic and vehicle status with recommendations to the driver.

IBM says cars are increasingly becoming:

Self-healing: Vehicles that can diagnose and fix themselves and even fix other vehicles’ issues without human help.

Self-socialising: Vehicles that connect with other vehicles and the world around them.

Self-learning: Vehicles with cognitive capability to continuously learn and give advice based on the behaviour of the driver, passengers, and other vehicles.

Self-driving: Vehicles are moving from limited automation to becoming fully autonomous.

Self-configuring: Vehicles adapt themselves to a driver’s personal preferences – everything from seat height and position to their drivers’ favourite destinations.

Self-integrating: Like other smart devices, these vehicles will be integrated parts of the IoT, connecting traffic, weather and mobility events as they move around.

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