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December 15, 2016updated 20 Dec 2016 11:02am

IBM brings cognitive computing to BMW’s connected cars

Aim is to create more intuitive driver support systems for BMW’s cars of the future.

By James Nunns

IBM and the BMW Group are working together to explore the role that Watson can have in personalising the driving experience.

Watson, the cognitive computing system from IBM, is going to be put to work to try and create more intuitive driver support systems for BMW’s cars of the future.

The collaboration between the two businesses will see the BMW Group collocate a team of researchers and engineers at IBM’s global headquarters for Watson Internet of Things in Munch.

The deal comes as good news for IBM which recently pledged to invest $200m in the Munich centre in order to bring Watson to the Internet of Things.

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 of the automobile’s existence.”

IBM is also planning to locate four BMW i8 hybrid sports cars at its Munich Watson IoT HQ where prototype solutions will run on the Bluemix cloud platform in order to demonstrate how the cognitive computer can enable new conversational interfaces between cars and drivers.

The hope is that Watson will be able to constantly learn about the drivers preferences, needs and driving habits and shall customise the driving experience accordingly.

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Watson will ingest the car’s manual and it will also incorporate data from the Weather Company in addition to real-time updates about route, traffic and vehicle status.

The pilot program comes as part of IBMs $3bn global investment to increase the reach of Watson into the IoT market.

A number of the large car manufactures and technology giants have been making significant moves in the driverless and connected car market. Samsung earlier this year snapped up car tech maker Harman for $8bn while Intel Capital have targeted $250m of additional investment in connected vehicle technologies over the next two years.

PwC estimates that the connected transport market could be worth almost $150bn globally by 2020, which clearly presents a huge opportunity for those operating in the sector.

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