Cognitive Computing

BMW Hits the Fast Lane with IBM Cognitive

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When it comes to our cars, drivers are asking for new features powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and companies like IBM and BMW Group are answering their call. In fact, today we announced a new collaboration focused on exploring how Watson cognitive computing can personalize and enhance the driving experience.

And when I say collaboration, I mean a true side-by-side effort–BMW Group, is collocating a team of researchers at IBM’s new global headquarters for its Watson Internet of Things business (IoT) in Munich, Germany. Together, every day, we will marry the power IoT and connected cars, a combination that will forever change the driving experience.

A fascinating aspect of this collaboration is something that’s on the mind of every driver, weather. When it comes to driving, weather can wreak havoc, turning a 20-minute commute to work into two hours of bumper to bumper traffic. IBM’s Munich-based technologists will explore how drivers can benefit from insights on weather conditions to help them make informed decisions on how to get from one place to the next both safely and efficiently.

For example, a driver heading to work could be alerted to patches of black ice that await them 5 miles down the road. By connecting weather with the in-car navigation service, the car can recommend alternate routes that are not only safer but also faster.

This announcement is the latest in a series of advancements by Watson Internet of Things and manufacturers and, as I mentioned off the top, it comes at a time when consumer demand for in-car information services is growing. The IBM Institute for Business Value just releases a great study, “A New Relationship — People and Cars,” which finds that vehicles are becoming part of the IoT as new mobility options transform consumers’ lives and expectations.

The study surveyed 16,000 consumers in 16 countries, asking how they plan to use vehicles over the next 10 years. What’s particularly exciting is that 55 percent were most interested in information services, such as traffic and weather information. Consumers are also showing a high level of interest in what it calls self-enabling vehicles (SEVs).

SEVs “take care of” their occupants and themselves using cognitive technologies and IoT. What does that mean for you, the driver? SEV will include self-healing capabilities where cars can diagnose and fix themselves and other vehicles without human help as well as and self-socializing features that connect with other vehicles and the world around them. These vehicles will also feature self-learning and driving features that continuously learn and give advice based on the behavior of the driver, passengers, and other vehicles while evolving from limited automation to becoming fully autonomous.

I could go on and on but recommend you check out the study for yourself.

One message that’s very clear is that today’s cars are evolving from a mode of transport to a moving data center with onboard sensors and computers that capture information about the car, its driver, occupants and surroundings. Thanks to these innovations, while the car will remain a fixture in personal transportation our experiences driving over the next decade will be changing more dramatically than at any other time of the history of the automobile.


To learn more about the new era of business, visit will be talking about the role of Watson IoT and vehicles at the North American International Auto Show from Jan. 8 – 22 in Detroit.

Former CEO & Chair of IBM Asia Pacific

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