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BMW hopes IBM's Watson can make driver support more intuitive

BMW might be secretly preparing to take on Alex Trebek, too. You never know.

There's no better thing to utilize than a computer that spanks people at "Jeopardy." That's not why BMW is teaming up with IBM, though.

BMW plans to use IBM's Watson in order to expand personalization of the driving experience and create new, better driver support systems for future vehicles. BMW will leave a team of researchers at IBM's headquarters in Munich, and they'll work with IBM's team of consultants and developers.

Watson is a prime example of using machine learning to create new solutions, which is exactly why BMW is heading that way. Machine learning can pick up on a driver's habits and customize the driving experience accordingly, whether it's offering up points of interest or already knowing where to go when the driver gets in.

I am pretty sure this isn't the i8's key.


Watson could integrate the driver's manual, allowing owners to ask questions about the car in "natural language" and receive the right answer. Integration with IBM's Weather Company could help craft smarter routes to and from destinations, as well.

BMW will also park 4 i8 sports cars at IBM's headquarters, and not just because they look good. The i8s will run prototype solutions that show how Watson can use that "natural language" to create a whole new series of interfaces between the car and its driver.

IBM put together a big study called "A New Relationship -- People and Cars." It points out that cars are blending into the growing Internet of Things category, and it highlights areas where IBM's specialties could work well. Those areas include vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity, self-learning through cognitive capabilities and, of course, autonomy.

BMW won't be the only company working with Watson. IBM recently promised to invest $200 million to transform its Munich HQ into a collaborative workspace that other companies can utilize. It's all part of IBM's $3 billion attempt to bring Watson's cognitive computing into the Internet of Things.