IBM’s Watson squaring off with former ‘Jeopardy!’ winners Ken Jennings (L) and Brad Rutter (R).
IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence system made it on TV in 2011 when it bested ‘Jeopardy!’ champions for $1 million dollars, and it may soon be found in the onboard computers of BMW vehicles. This was after the New York-based chipmaker announced on Thursday that it has partnered with BMW Group to determine how Watson’s AI can help in creating more intuitive driver support systems and a more personalized driving experience.
As part of the deal, a team of BMW engineers will work alongside IBM’s researchers at the Watson Internet of Things (IoT) headquarters in Munich, Germany. Four BMW i8 hybrid sports cars will also be linked to IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform to “to demonstrate how Watson can enable new conversational interfaces between cars and drivers,” IBM said in a statement.
The BMW i8 hybrid.
“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,” said Harriet Green, IBM global head of the Watson IoT.
“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,” Green said.
BMW’s partnership with IBM is the latest foray by the German automaker in developing fully connected vehicles and is the first to partner with IBM’s Watson team.
The i8’s owner manual will be uploaded into the Watson AI, which may then be used to allow drivers to ask questions about their vehicle in a “natural” language and receive answers while driving, Niklaus Waser, IBM head of Watson IoT in Europe, said in an interview with Auto News.
“We will work together so that BMW drivers can benefit from Watson’s machine learning capabilities,” he said, adding that the partnership may lead to further collaboration with other carmakers in the future.
“There is no reason why we should do this only with BMW, and BMW has not asked for exclusivity,” Waser said.
But while BMW may be the first automaker to team up with IBM with the Watson AI, it is not the first time that IBM has partnered with car manufacturers on connectivity. In 2015, it partnered with PSA Peugeot Citroen to connect their vehicles to the Internet, while General Motors announced in October that it would use Watson’s software to identify driver behavior and market services to motorists using that information.