GM's OnStar, IBM's Watson combine to market brands to drivers

October 25, 2016 7:50 PM EDT

A model switches on the OnStar connectivity system inside an Opel Karl during the second press day ahead of the 85th International Motor Show in Geneva March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - General Motors Co and International Business Machines Corp on Tuesday said they would combine IBM's artificial intelligence software Watson with the carmaker's OnStar system in order to market services to drivers in their vehicles.

The feature, called OnStar Go, is set to debut early next year in more than two million GM vehicles with 4G service, IBM and GM said in a joint statement.

IBM's Watson, which beat two previous winners of the quiz show "Jeopardy!" in 2011, will sift through data in order to recognize a driver's habits, allowing third-party marketers to deliver targeted offers, whether nearby coffee shops, reminders about shopping-list items, or paying for fuel from their dashboards.

Carmakers have been adding connected services into their vehicles to duplicate the convenience of smartphones, which can suggest nearby restaurant offers, or point the way to a gas station.

Data generated from connected vehicles is valuable to automakers, although some consumers have been wary of privacy and data security issues. Drivers will have to opt in to the service, the companies said.

Automakers are trying to fend off in-vehicle competition from Alphabet Inc's Google and Apple Inc , whose Android Auto and CarPlay services connect entertainment and navigation on the driver's smartphone to the vehicle's dashboard.

ExxonMobil, MasterCard and parking spot finder Parkopedia are among the first brands to join the platform, IBM and GM said.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by G Crosse and Bill Rigby)

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