BMW and IBM want to turn cars into roaming AI platforms

16 Dec 2016

IBM Watson converted BMW i8S. Image: IBM

Being in such close proximity to one another, BMW and IBM are to team up to make the former’s car an advanced AI platform using sensors powered by Watson.

Last year, IBM established its headquarters for all internet of things (IoT) technology in Munich and as recently as October, the company poured $200m into developing its supercomputer platform, Watson.

Now, with BMW just around the corner in the southern German city, IBM has revealed that it will now work with the car company, using its technology to turn its cars into driving AI platforms.

Car can ‘heal’ itself

In a statement, IBM said it will start by delving into the schematics of four of BMW’s advanced i8 hybrid cars that will run on the company’s Bluemix cloud platform.

Within the car, a myriad of sensors will gather vast amounts of data that will attempt to make the cars more energy-efficient, but also safer for those in the car.

Within the project, both IBM and Watson are focusing on six areas within connected car technology including the ability to allow the car to ‘heal’ itself using automatic self-diagnostic and repair technology.

Other issues Watson will be tasked with solving include being able to advise drivers on aspects of the car it can’t fix itself, as well as the seemingly inevitable development of autonomous vehicles.

Driving weather monitors

However, speaking to TechCrunch, IBM has admitted it is not as focused on developing autonomous car technology compared to some of its tech rivals, most notably Google and its new spin-off company, Waymo.

In the coming months, IBM will begin working with The Weather Company to allow BMW cars in the future gather weather data on the road, thereby allowing the organisation to collect more localised weather data.

“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,” said Harriet Green, global head of IBM’s Watson IoT business.

“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.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic