BMW has been one of the car companies to quickly assess the changing landscape and position itself at the forefront of the ‘next wave’ of cars. The BMW i8 already being sold across the world and some of the concepts that it has showcased at car shows across the world have made it clear that the company is not going to sit back and wait for changes to take place in the automotive sector but will drive them.

As a part of this campaign, BMW and IBM have announced that BMW will be working with IBM’s Watson to collect intelligent data about what it believes to be the future of driving.

BMW i8 & IBM Watson

More specifically, though, the company is going to hand over four of its i8 cars to IBM and let them equip it with Watson IoT sensors and connect to IBM’s Bluemix platform so that they can collect and make sense of all the data being collected.

While on first glance this may seem like another step towards building autonomous driving, both BMW and IBM insist that this partnership is much more than that. The collaboration is going to be based out of the state of the art IoT centre IBM has made in Munich and is going to focus on making the cars more intelligent so that they are able to diagnose and self-repair any minor issues that crop up, communication to other vehicles, level 5 autonomous driving, adapting to different drivers and their preferences and lastly making it intelligent enough to be able to receive any ancillary devices that the car owner might have.

All of these features also give a glimpse into how BMW perceives driving is going to evolve alongside cars and the focus on making cars safer, more intuitive to use and fun to drive.

This is where BMW is a little different from companies like Ford and Volvo that believe that self-driving at all times is the future. According to the German carmaker, there will be certain situations where the cars will be completely autonomous, however, in most others, the technology will only augment the human drivers.

The deal also marks a milestone for IBM which has currently around 6,000 companies working with its Watson program across all imaginable industries. BMW though is one of the biggest companies to come on board and an indicator of the advancement its AI and IoT program has made.

BMW is also part owner of Here maps (along with Daimler and Audi) and is working on including sensors on more of its cars to improve the mapping service as well as integrate more customer facing features down the line.

The automotive industry is fast becoming a race to acquiring and developing the latest technology, most of which may not be necessarily directly connected to traditional car making. This is why BMW’s tie up with one of the most accomplished technology companies in the world is a huge win for the company and there is no reason why both companies could not expand this partnership to something more encompassing down the line.

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