Attendees gather at an IBM Watson event in lower Manhattan, New York January 9, 2014. IBM said it will invest more than $1 billion to establish a new business unit for Watson, as the tech giant hopes to get more revenue from the supercomputer system that beat humans on the television quiz show "Jeopardy". The world's largest technology service provider said the IBM Watson Group will be headed by Michael Rhodin, who was previously senior vice president of IBM's software solutions group. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS) (Newscom TagID: rtrlsix221232.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]
IBM has announced a new collaboration with the BMW Group, through which the companies will work together to explore the role of Watson cognitive computing in personalising the driving experience and creating more intuitive driver support systems for cars of the future.
 
As part of the agreement, the BMW Group will collocate a team of researchers at IBM’s global headquarters for Watson Internet of Things (IoT) in Munich, Germany and the companies will work together explore how to improve intelligent assistant functions for drivers.
 
IBM recently pledged to invest USD $200 million to make its new Munich centre one of the world’s most advanced facilities for collaborative innovation as part of a global investment of USD $3 billion to bring Watson cognitive computing to the Internet of Things. BMW, which also has its company headquarters in Bavaria’s capital, is one of the first companies to sign up to be collocated inside IBM’s building within one of the newly-launched industry ‘collaboratories’.  A team of BMW Group engineers will work alongside IBM’s own team of technologists, developers and consultants.
 
“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’s Watson 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. 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.”
 
To further its automotive research and demonstrate the possibilities of Watson IoT technologies to clients, IBM will locate 4 BMW i8 hybrid sports cars at its Munich Watson IoT HQ. Prototype solutions which will run on IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform will help demonstrate how Watson can enable new conversational interfaces between cars and drivers.
 
Watson’s machine learning capabilities offer new opportunities for vehicles to learn about the preferences, needs and driving habits of their drivers over time, customising the driving experience accordingly and improving levels of comfort and safety. The car’s manual will be ingested into Watson so that drivers can ask questions about the vehicle in natural language while still being able to focus on the road. The aim is for the solution to also incorporate data from the Weather Company (an IBM business) as well as real-time, contextual updates about route, traffic and vehicle status in order to enrich the driving experience and make recommendations to the driver.