Hamilton, Ontario – IBM has partnered with Ontario’s McMaster University to create a “cognitive car” that can predict vehicle failures before they happen, redirect drivers to less-congested routes, and help reduce traffic collisions, by connecting the vehicle’s microprocessors that currently work in isolation.

McMaster engineers will study how using a single IBM multi-core processor to integrate what are currently disconnected automotive systems could improve vehicle efficiency and driver safety, as part of a shared university research award from IBM. The multi-core processor is a “super” microprocessor capable of performing many complex calculations simultaneously. It was originally developed for video games, but now has applications for financial services, energy exploration, information-based medicine, digital animation, and oil and gas production.

The research will focus on integrating data from sensors and microprocessors in the vehicle and on roads to help drivers reduce collisions, and to get drivers real-time visual information and alerts to take alternate routes, reducing driver tension, road congestion and emissions related to stop-and-go traffic.

“To date, our research has focused on safety-critical software in industries such as nuclear energy and medical devices, but increasingly, the automotive industry is adding functionality to vehicles that is safety-critical,” said Dr. Alan Wassyng, who leads the research team of faculty and graduate students. “Investigating how a powerful multi-core processor could be applied to manage that functionality will go a long way in helping build a smarter car that helps drivers operate their vehicles more safely and efficiently.”

The program will also study how this increased computing power can help vehicles better integrate into regional and global transportation systems, including roadside service, traffic management, air quality management and emergency services.

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