BMW and IBM team up to build AI car that can diagnose and fix itself

BMW is trying to position itself at the forefront of connected and autonomous automotive technology. The automaker just signed up for a partnership that focuses on data. IBM announced that they will be working with BMW on research and development, which integrates Watson sensors and computing into the vehicles. Data will be picked up to help with new systems, which are aimed at efficiency and driver personalization. BMW will have a team of researchers in place at IBM’s Munich headquarters, working alongside IBM’s team of consultants and developers.

IBM will begin hacking four BMW i8 hybrid sports cars. The vehicles will be turned into prototype solutions which will run on IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform. There are many efforts underway across the industry to build self-driving cars, but this is more about determining the best way to build systems in vehicles to make them work better. IBM is not very interested in replacing humans with autonomous cars at the moment.

Watson showcases machine learning to create new solutions, this is what caught the attention of BMW, attracting them into collaborating with IBM. Machine learning can pick up on driver habits and customize the driver experience accordingly. Watson can also integrate the driver’s manual, allowing owners to ask questions directly to the vehicle, and receive a response.

6,000 companies, across an array of industries, are currently looking for ways to work with Watson. As for the BMW project, there are six distinct areas of focus where BMW and IBM feel that useful data can be used from the driving experience. The most impressive service will be self-healing, where the car will be able to diagnose and fix itself.

The artificial intelligence of self-diagnostics and repair is by far the most impressive area of focus; however, other features will be utilized which can be used to communicate with other vehicles, give advice on driving and maintenance, connect to other devices, store driver preferences, or go fully autonomous.

Soon, IBM will start working with its Weather Company division to look at ways to pick up more weather data through vehicle sensors. This is in addition to a previously announced project where sensors will collect traffic data on BMW’s, Daimler’s, and Audi’s. The three auto-makers co-own the mapping company, and plan to use the data to enhance its dataset and services.

The companies did not comment on whether they would roll out the experiments commercially, but hinted at a long-term intention for the project.


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