Cloud Computing

Who Knew U.S. Drivers Crossed Their Legs While Using Cruise Control?

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When engineers here at Honda R&D were discussing where to locate the “engine start” button in their vehicles, they learned that several US drivers accidentally pressed the engine start button with their knees.

This was a big surprise for us, because it’s only possible if you put the car into cruise control, take your feet off the pedals and fold your legs up on the seat. We had never imagined that people would actually choose to drive like this, so it was a valuable insight for our product design teams.

This insight and others like them come from analyzing records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We also glean information from J.D. Power Initial Quality Studies, Honda R&D’s in-house voice-of-customer studies, vehicle diagnostics and telematics, smartphones, biometric sensors, and sources of unstructured text, such as customer surveys.

To harness these big data assets, we rely on the analytic powers of IBM SPSS Modeler and IBM Predictive Maintenance and Quality software, plus the text mining capabilities of IBM Watson Content Analytics technology all running on the IBM Cloud platform in a shared virtual server environment in Tokyo.

The IBM cloud enabled us to get the solution up and running much more quickly than would have been possible with an on-premises solution. What’s more, the scalability of the platform means that if other departments decide to adopt IBM Watson Content Analytics, Honda R&D can add and support them easily.

Big data insights are also propelling new engineering projects at Honda R&D, such as using vehicle sensor data to monitor drivers’ steering manoeuvers and potentially personalize the steering experience.

IBM analytics is helping Honda R&D’s engineers harness big data to explore valuable new areas of research — and ultimately design better, smarter, safer automobiles.

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