The Car of The Future Knows What You Want

The car of the future won’t necessarily look like the Batmobile. But it might act like Alfred the butler.

In their new book My Cognitive autoMOBILE Life, Sebastian Wedeniwski and Stephen Perun predict that cars won’t merely drive for you, they’ll act like personal assistants dedicated to supporting your life, whether you’re trying to stop the Joker or just trying to get to work on time.

Here’s what Perun and Wedeniwski have to say about the future of your ride: “Love your car? Get ready to say goodbye: Soon it will be obsolete. We’re moving far beyond cars we drive to cars that drive us. But it won’t stop there. In the next decade, cars will be cognitive, sophisticated mobility machines powered by AI. They will serve as drivers, navigators and personal robots that assist us with everything we do.”

Wedeniwski is chief technology strategist at Standard Chartered Bank. Before that he was an IBM Distinguished Engineer and the chief technology officer for IBM’s global industrial sector. Perun is a business development executive with IBM and part of its Global Business Services unit.

Perun has spent the last two years cozying up to Japan’s car industry on behalf of IBM, who want car companies to use its cloud to store your robot butler car’s apps and data. So it’s no surprise he’s bullish on the potential of integrating AI tech with automobiles.

Perun talks about “Level 5” self driving cars, the Holy Grail of eliminating the need for a human being behind the wheel. Basically you get in and you get out—no driver needed. And with cars of the future will have the functions of today’s household digital assistants like Alexa or Siri, it’ll drive with your routine and favorite destinations in mind.

“It knows it’s Monday,” Perun says of the future smartcar. “It knows it’s going to work. You don’t have to tell it. You don’t have to tell it to stop at Starbucks.”

Perun and Wedeniwski believe cars will connect with us emotionally as well as physically. Emotions have been part of driving for a long time, with people choosing vehicles that reflect their self image and beliefs. But instead of merely reflecting our moods and personalities, future cars will operate in response to our emotional needs.

“When we step into its interior, it greets us,” they say. “It reads our moods and makes certain determinations. A hard day may prompt it to play soothing music, make a beeline for the gym or meander home taking the scenic route.”

You may not necessarily be tempted to give your automotive butler a name like Jeeves or Alfred, but you’re almost certain to personify it somehow. The cognitive vehicle will be well attuned to us and integrated into our lives, that we won’t be able to think of it as an “it,” write Perun and Wedeniwski.

People love their cars now. When their cars start really taking their feelings into account, people may be even more attached, even if they never need to touch its steering wheel.

“Yet another reason it may be hard to change models,” Perun and Wedeniwski write, without any apparent sarcasm.