IBM Automotive Study Calls for Cognitive Cars by 2025

An IBM survey of auto industry execs indicates cognitive cars will be commonplace by 2025, but self-driving cars will not.

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Connected car

IBM recently released results of its new Automotive Global Study 2025, which shows that auto executives believe cars will increasingly become more personalized for drivers but fully autonomous vehicles or fully automated driving will not be commonplace by 2025.

IBM released its study during the Automotive News World Congress, which ran Jan. 13 and 14 in Detroit. The IBM Automotive 2025 Global Study is based on interviews with 175 executives from automotive OEMs, suppliers and other thought leaders in 21 countries, detailing customer expectations, growth strategies, mobility requirements, ecosystem disruption and other topics shaping the direction of the industry.

Titled "Automotive 2025: Industry without borders," the study was developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) as a follow-up to "Automotive 2020: Clarity beyond the chaos."

IBM identified nine external influencers, such as economies/markets, government regulations and sustainability, that affect other industries. According to the study, changes in consumer expectations were the most dramatic shift between the Auto 2020 and Auto 2025 studies. Addressing consumer expectations now ranks behind only technology in order of importance to the automotive industry.

"While the automotive industry has seen a resurgence in recent years, a new industry identity is emerging—one that is more open, inclusive, and without borders," said Alexander Scheidt, Global Automotive Industry Leader for IBM Global Business Services, in a statement. "Welcoming this transformation can result in benefits the likes of which haven't been seen since the automated assembly line. By 2025, the industry will not only re-create our highly personalized and digitized lives inside our cars, but also give consumers a bigger role in defining that experience, whether as a driver or passenger."

IBM says today's consumers are more engaged than ever. They desire both digital engagement and an improved driving experience. The report indicates that consumers not only want to drive cars, they want the opportunity to innovate and co-create them along with related services, such as infotainment.

The report also indicates that nearly two out of every three, or 63 percent, of executives surveyed said they see mobility services or car sharing as an area for greater collaboration with consumers. In addition, 59 percent said they feel product design, marketing campaigns (54 percent), and service and after-sales support (52 percent) are all areas in which the industry would benefit from working directly with consumers.

Moreover, the IBM study indicates that by 2025, vehicles will be sophisticated enough to configure themselves to a driver and other occupants. Also, cars will be able to learn, heal, drive and socialize with other vehicles and their surrounding environment. Nearly 80 percent of the executives said they believe in-vehicle cognitive technologies will be a key component of how vehicles learn and reason to provide a better experience for the occupants and optimize their own performance.
In addition, 57 percent of respondents said they believe vehicle "social networks" will be in place where vehicles will communicate with each other, allowing vehicles to share not only traffic and weather conditions, but information specific to a given automaker. For instance, if a vehicle were 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.

In contrast to common beliefs, only 8 percent of executives surveyed said they see fully autonomous vehicles becoming commonplace by 2025. Moreover, only 19 percent said they believe that a fully automated environment—meaning the driving system handles all situations without monitoring, and the driver is allowed to perform non-driving tasks—will be routine by 2025.

However, 87 percent of the participants said they believe partially automated driving, such as an expansion of today's self-parking or lane change assist technologies, will be commonplace. Moreover, 55 percent said highly automated driving, where the system recognizes its limitations and calls the driver to take control, if needed, allowing the driver to perform some non-driving tasks in the meantime, will also be adapted by 2025.

In addition, the study indicated that the self-contained auto industry must transform to a global ecosystem that is open and collaborative.

"Looking toward 2025, as the borders continue to come down, the new ecosystem will create challenges and opportunities the industry has never had to face before; the enterprises that welcome openness will set the stage for long term success and industry leadership," Scheidt said in a statement.