Augmenting intelligence: How BMW’s US IT center is putting AI into the hands of workers

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The BMW IT Technology Innovation and Research Center in the US is both a research lab and closely aligned to the carmaker’s production in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Bennie Vorster, who leads special projects there, talks to automotiveIT International about industrializing new tech, and making sure AI assists workers. 

Outside Germany, one of BMW’s key research organizations for business and manufacturing technology is the IT Innovation and Research Center. With bases both in Silicon Valley, as well as Greenville, South Carolina, the IT center carries out research for systems and tools across the enterprise, including financial services, sales and marketing, engineering, quality, HR, production and logistics. It is part of the carmaker’s central BMW Group IT department led from Munich, which coordinates the company’s enterprise and manufacturing IT backbone.

Similar to other laboratory locations across BMW, the IT center operates to a large extent in research mode. It has a strong connection, for example, to Clemson University, with whom it shares a campus at the International Center for Automotive Research, working closely with engineering and software professors and students. It also collaborates with other academics in the US in areas like artificial intelligence, sensor connectivity and cyber security.

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