IBM and Volkswagen Team Up to Develop Digital Mobility Services

By: Jeff Bertolucci| - Leave a comment

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Volkswagen and IBM have announced plans to co-develop digital mobility services for the next generation of automobiles, a joint effort designed to address the rapid growth of autonomous and semi-autonomous cars, as well as data-sharing between vehicles and drivers.

Volkswagen will leverage IBM’s expertise in cognitive and cloud computing to design personalized digital services for drivers. The partnership is initially set for five years and will work to establish an open marketplace for third-party developers interested in creating products and services for the companies’ digital platform.

“Volkswagen will benefit from our long-standing industry expertise, our cloud services and our AI-based Watson technologies as well as our digital design know-how,” Dirk Wollschlager, IBM general manager of global automotive industry, said in a statement.

The joint venture will strive to bring more intelligence and autonomous capabilities to digital mobility services and will implement these new ideas faster, Wollschlager added.

Driver-Tailored Solutions

We Commerce, IBM and Volkswagen’s first joint effort, will provide an integrated service that offers drivers recommended actions at specific places and times, the companies said.

IBM’s cognitive services will enable the platform to learn from drivers’ habits and preferences and make personalized recommendations. In addition, retailers, hotels, gas stations and restaurants will be able to use We Commerce to tailor their services to individual customers.

A New Era of Driving

Mobility digital services for drivers are still a work in progress, of course, but Volkswagen provided a glimpse at CES 2017 as to how a new class of automotive services will expand beyond the traditional driver-car relationship.

The Volkswagen Ecosystem, for instance, is a new digital platform that provides drivers with a Volkswagen User-ID, a collection of personal settings and services that stays with them regardless of which vehicle they’re driving. This feature could prove particularly popular to customers of connected car-sharing services, where drivers rent cars for short periods of time.

Faster Development Cycles

Volkswagen’s mobility products will be combined with a variety of IBM’s cognitive capabilities and services, including machine learning in the IBM Cloud. The companies plan to use the latest software development techniques, such as microservices, to build digital services quickly.

“These new digital products will be developed by interdisciplinary teams on the basis of agile principles in development and testing cycles, which are as short as possible in order to create services tailored to the actual needs of customers,” Volkswagen sales executive Jurgen Stackmann said in the official statement.

Industry-Wide Transformation

All major automakers are embracing digital technologies in preparation for a new era of driving — one guided by cloud-connected, data-sharing vehicles.

German automaker BMW, for instance, recently launched a connected-car platform, BMW CarData, that utilizes digital information collected by its vehicles’ onboard computers. The platform will run on IBM’s cloud computing system and use the Bluemix platform-as-a-service.

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.