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IBM and BMW want to make Watson your own personal back-seat driver

BMW and IBM: Cognitive Research for Cars of the Future
You’re about to get a new passenger in your BMW, and his name is Watson.

On Thursday, the German automaker announced a new collaboration with IBM, in which the two companies will “work together to explore the role of Watson cognitive computing in personalizing the driving experience and creating more intuitive driver support systems for cars of the future.” So even if you’re not the smartest driver in the garage, BMW and IBM want to help.

This is by no means the first time BMW has shown an interest in connected technology and the smart car space. Just a few months ago, the luxury car brand announced a number of initiatives around its mysteriously named “Strategy Number One,” including self-driving technology, mobility, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

And now, BMW is taking an even deeper dive into cognitive computing by way of this IBM partnership.

“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.”

The hope is that Watson and its machine learning skills will help BMW vehicles learn their owners’ preferences, needs, and habits, thereby making for the safest and most comfortable driving experience possible. Moreover, new four BMW i8 hybrid sports cars will have their manuals ingested into Watson, so drivers can ask their cars questions in natural language. Finally, the automaker also hopes to integrate data from IBM-owned Weather Company for real-time updates around the weather and how it affects ideal routes and traffic conditions.

So get excited, friends. Your car is getting smarter, and by extension, so are you.

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