A self-driving minibus from concept to market in 12 weeks? Yep, here’s how AI did it | #NAIAS


Shortening the time a company can go from concept through testing to market can save and earn them money and result in better quality products. We spoke with one International Business Machine Corp. employee who shared how he used new technology to deliver a fully functioning self-driving minibus to market in 12 weeks.

Sachin Lulla, Global Watson IoT for Auto Leader – AutoLab, spoke about how his group delivers IBM technology to companies to help them create better products in a shorter time frame.

“AutoLab is our incubation engine to take all of IBM’s digital innovation capabilities and take them in a very rapid agile manner to cocreate with our clients,” he said.

The wisdom of crowds

During the North American International Auto Show, Lulla told Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio, about one recent example of this process: Olli.

“It’s the world’s first 3D printed autonomous self-driving minibus with Watson inside,” he explained. They helped develop Ollie for Local Motors, a company Lulla said has done a great job of crowd-sourcing vehicle designs.

“We did the same with our Watson technology, crowd-sourcing ideas on use cases with the Olli, developing it and then actually going to market with it in 12 weeks for the launch in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Lulla explained that Olli’s “cognitive riding experience” was fine-tuned with the help of the Watson application, which received 10,000 interactions on the first day.

No monetization without personalization

Lulla stated that autonomous vehicle makers seem to be in a rush to monetize their drivers’ data. To this he said, “Personalization leads to monetization, and not the other way around.”

He added that is where cognitive technology like Watson comes into play. For example, “If I know you stop and pick up a cup of Starbucks coffee every Monday before work, that’s when I’ll prompt you with the latest offer from Starbucks,” he said.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of the North American International Auto Show.

Photo by SiliconANGLE