Will your car become a mini-data center? IBM thinks that’s just the beginning

IBM: How you buy, repair and drive your car could change rapidly in next few years


In the not too distant future many consumers expect autonomous, self-driving cars that repair problems without human intervention, implement cognitive computing to adapt the car to a particular driver’s behaviors and react to the vehicle’s environment.

Those are at least some of the conclusions gleaned from IBM’s Auto 2025: A New Relationship – People and Cars research involving 16,000 global consumers who were asked how they expect to use vehicles in the next ten years.

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According to IBM, consumers indicated that they were very interested in all aspects of self-enabling vehicles, but diagnostics and preventive capabilities rated highest (59%), with ten out of sixteen countries placing it as the highest priority. Through the continually expanding landscape of sensors and cognitive computing, manufacturers will be able to better understand the vehicle's issues, develop technology and recommend resolutions, often times, without the driver bringing the vehicle in for servicing.

“Today’s vehicles have transformed from a mode of transportation, into a mobile data center with onboard sensors and computers that capture volumes of information about the vehicle and its surroundings,” said Alexander Scheidt, Global Automotive Industry Leader, IBM Global Business Services in a statement.

Some of the other interesting finds in the study included:

  • The personal car will continue to be a primary mode of transportation, as its convenience remains very attractive to consumers. However there is a shift underway in what it means to own a vehicle. Of those surveyed, 42% would consider alternative ownership modes such as subscription pricing, while another 24% of respondents were very interested in fractional ownership of vehicles.
  • Thirty-nine percent of consumers would consider a car -sharing model and 36% surveyed would choose the on-demand ride sharing option. Options for car sharing, on-demand ride sharing and peer-to-peer rental not only give consumers the convenience of using a car without owning, but also gives car owners the opportunity to receive a return on investment on their underutilized auto.
  • While globally 67% surveyed agreed that it is still important to buy a vehicle in person from a dealership, original equipment manufactures (OEMs) and online brokers are empowering consumers to make smarter purchasing decisions. Forty-six percent of consumers said they would be very interested in purchasing online from an OEM and 38% would purchase online from third-party broker, if offered.
  • There was a a high interest in crowd sourcing ideas online and participating in design games and contests. Some 37% indicated they would be willing to have their driving and mobility data used to help in the design of new vehicles. By installing sensors and enabling cognitive computing, OEMs will be able to better understand consumer issues, make recommendations, and offer help without the driver bringing the car in for service.

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The research is a follow-on to last year’s “Automotive 2025: Industry without borders,” study that offered a number of interesting findings as well:

  • By 2025, the vehicle will be sophisticated enough to configure itself to a driver and other occupants.
  • Fifty-seven percent believe vehicle “social networks” would be in place where vehicles would communicate with each other, allowing vehicles to share not only traffic or weather conditions, but information specific to a given automaker. For instance, if a vehicle was experiencing some type of problem not recognized before, it could communicate with other vehicles of the same brand to seek help on what the issue might be.
  • Analytics capabilities will help vehicles identify and locate issues, schedule fixes and even help other vehicles with similar problems with minimal impact to the driver.
  • Like other smart devices, the vehicle will be an integrated component in the Internet of Things (IoT). It will collect and use information from others concerning traffic, mobility, weather and other events associated with moving around: details about driving conditions, as well as sensor-based and location-based information for ancillary industries, such as insurance and retail.
  • Seventy-four percent of respondents said that vehicles will have cognitive capabilities to learn the behaviors of the driver and occupants, the vehicle itself and the surrounding environment to continually optimize and advise. As the vehicle learns more about the driver and occupants, it will be able to expand its advice to other mobility services options.

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