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IBM Patents Cognitive System for Self-driving Vehicles

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

IBM expands its self-driving patents portfolio with a machine learning system that can dynamically shift control of an autonomous vehicle between a human driver and a vehicle control processor in the event of a potential emergency, providing a safety measure that can contribute to accident prevention.

IBM researchers, with a background in computational neuroscience, used their understanding of the human biological cognition and behavior generation in the brain to develop a new cognitive model and technique for autonomous cars. It employs sensors and artificial intelligence to dynamically determine potential safety concerns and control whether self-driving vehicles are operated autonomously or by relinquishing control to a human driver.

IBM was granted U.S. Patent #9,566,986: Controlling driving modes of self-driving vehicles for this invention.

Self-driving vehicles hold great promise and potential, but protecting the safety of passengers and other drivers remains a top priority for vehicle developers and manufacturers,” said James Kozloski, manager, Computational Neuroscience and Multiscale Brain Modeling, IBM Research and co-inventor on the patent in a press release.

We are focused on finding new ways to leverage our understanding of the human brain and inventing systems that can help those enterprises improve the safety of autonomous vehicles on the road.

Previous patented IBM inventions are focused on helping self-driving vehicles better anticipate and respond to the actions of human drivers. For example, U.S. Patent #9,361,409: Automatic driver modeling for integration of human-controlled vehicles into an autonomous vehicle network describes a machine learning system that models human driving techniques.

IBM researchers have patented numerous inventions that, among other things, can help vehicles become:

1) Self-learning – powered by cognitive capability that continuously learns and gives advice based on behavior of the driver, passengers, and other vehicles

2) Self-socialising – connecting with other vehicles and the world around them

3) Self-driving – moving from limited automation to becoming fully autonomous

4) Self-configuring – adapting to a driver’s personal preferences

5) Self-integrating – integrating into the IoT, connecting traffic, weather and mobility events with changing location

Over the years, IBM was the leader of U.S patent recipients and their belief is that ‘automobiles are evolving from a mode of transport to a moving data center outfitted with sensors and computers that capture information about the vehicle, its driver, occupants and surroundings’, according to IBM Institute for Business Value


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