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BMW to leverage IBM's Watson to improve AI driver-assist features

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【Summary】Germany luxury vehicle manufacturer BMW announced recently that it will partner with IBM Watson research center, to help develop its line of next-generation cars.

Original Claire    Dec 21, 2016 12:26 PM PT
BMW to leverage IBM's Watson to improve AI driver-assist features

Germany luxury vehicle manufacturer BMW announced recently that it will partner with IBM Watson research center, to help develop its line of next-generation cars.

Cooperating with experts at IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) facility in Munich, BMW engineers will tinker with four BMW i8 hybrid sports cars to develop "intelligent assistant functions." The artificially intelligent computer system will be installed in BMW vehicles, to serve as a personal assistant to drivers.

"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 Watson's 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."

As an artificially intelligent computer system, Watson was originally developed by IBM's DeepQA project to answer questions expressed in natural language. It was named after IBM's first CEO and industrialist Thomas J. Watson. Previously, the supercomputer competed with human contestants on a famous quiz show - Jeopardy!, where it beat other competitors, leveraging a robust memory bank of 200 million pages of content. The machine took home a $100 million prize and won over tech enthusiasts worldwide. 

During that period, the computer was not connected to the internet. Eventually, the technology was commercialized into many fields. The first application was for utilization of management decisions in lung cancer treatment at NYC's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2013. Watson also partnered with various companies and organizations in retail, healthcare, music, education and etc. Its most recent partnerships are Lotte shopping mall in Korea and Siemens. 

BMW's cooperation with Watson comes with deep applications under the IoT ecosystem. Back in September, the German auto giant cooperated with Audi and Mercedes, launching a project aimed at helping vehicles communicate with each other, while informing drivers about traffic conditions in real-time. 

When working with Big Blue's AI star, BMW will attempt to feed its instruction manual into Watson. In application, a driver could ask questions directly to Watson inside a BMW car without getting distracted. Additionally, Watson's strong machine learning capabilities will enable a car to learn about people's driving habits, preferences and needs. Over time, it will be capable of "customizing the driving experience accordingly and improving levels of comfort and safety."

According to TechCrunch, the two companies will focus on six distinct areas to improve driving experience. These components include the following: "self-healing" service (car's own diagnostics and self-repair if something goes wrong); "self-socializing" (connect with other vehicles on the road); "self-learning" (instruct drivers about maintenance and others); "fully autonomous" (when cars need to drive themselves); "self-figuring" (detect and adapt to driver's preferences) and "self-integrating" (how it connects with other devices). 

At the rate BMW and IBM are developing the technology, we might not have to wait long to see intelligent cars surpassing capabilities of everyday computers - or even a human being. 

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