How Cognitive Technology Is Paving a Safer, More Comfortable Future

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By: Albert McKeon|

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Put aside any fanciful thoughts of leaving your driveway and launching into the sky for a shorter commute to work. Until we enter “Back to the Future,” anyway, your personal car won’t be flying any time soon.

But the automobile is undergoing a rapid transformation right before our eyes and will behave differently in the foreseeable future. Yes, cars will “behave,” making driving safer and smarter with the assistance of cognitive technology. Consumers won’t be able to brag about their new flying cars, but they will show off the capabilities of their smart cars.

This advancement doesn’t depend solely on the development of autonomous cars. Sure, people can’t wait for the complete maturity of self-driving automobiles so they can sit back and relax behind the wheel with a cup of coffee that won’t spill all over them, while the car itself does the work of weaving through crowded city streets. But there are many others who don’t trust machines to this degree and would prefer to retain some control over their car’s movements.

That’s why cognitive features have immense potential to reshape the driving experience. When drivers want to drive, the technology can give them the real-time information they need to have safe, comfortable journeys.

Cognitive Technology for Comfort (and Diaper Reminders)

An automobile ride has evolved from a simple point-A-to-point-B activity. Today, driving includes and in many ways relies on technology. Motorists make telephone calls, find the shortest travel route from a map application, check on the weather and sort through large digital libraries for musical entertainment.

That’s a lot of data streaming through the car, but for the most part, it’s just flying out the window. Driver-assisted technology promises to harness all that information so motorists can make informed decisions based on where they’ve been and how they got there.

The road to cognitive driving is already being paved. Consider the new partnership between IBM and BMW: In a series of tests this year, four BMW I8 hybrid sports cars will connect with IBM technology to verbally quiz drivers about their vehicles. The system will also incorporate traffic updates and weather information to make up-to-the-minute route suggestions, and it will monitor driver behavior to personalize the car for comfort and performance, as detailed by Automotive News.

IBM also recently teamed up with General Motors to improve the hands-free communication platform OnStar. The system will sort through data to glean drivers’ habits and preferences, as a way of delivering individualized location-based interactions with their favorite brands, according to Forbes. A motorist can, for example, activate a fuel pump and pay for gas directly from the dashboard, be directed to a restaurant that has short wait times or be reminded to buy diapers. These features give technology companies a wide window of opportunity to add their offerings to the personalized driving experience.

Safety Benefits for the Enterprise

But cognitive technology does more than warn drivers about a short supply of diapers at home. Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in automobiles couple cameras and radar with an interior cognitive program that processes drivers’ decision-making abilities to provide in-the-moment safety guidance. The system alerts motorists if they’re lane-drifting or approaching vehicles and pedestrians too quickly.

ADAS technology can also provide fleet managers with data on their employees’ driving habits. Cloud-based technology can track collision-related data and can recognize patterns such as consistent braking, a sign that a driver frequently tailgates. With smart vehicles, a company can lower its per-collision costs, save on fuel and use its improved safety record to boost its public image of corporate and social responsibility.

Coming to a Roadway Near You

Consumer demand for a digitally supported driving experience should fuel the growth of cognitive technology in automobiles. Drivers like to be entertained, guided and safe.

One survey, Automotive 2025, took the pulse of auto executives in 2015 and found that 80 percent of them believe cognitive technologies will be the key to vehicles learning how to provide individualized driving experiences. They also believe cars will communicate with one another via social networks to share road conditions, weather updates and other information.

Only two years have passed since those predictions, but cognitive technology is already well on its way to redefining how cars drive.

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About The Author

Albert McKeon

Freelance Writer

Albert McKeon covers technology, health, business, politics and entertainment. He previously worked as a newspaper reporter for 16 years on the staffs of The Telegraph (N.H.) and Boston Herald, winning the New England Press Association’s Journalist of the Year award and other honors. He now writes as a freelancer for several magazines and news outlets, and creates content for organizations such as Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston College.

Articles by Albert McKeon
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