Microsoft, along with General Motors (GM), Honda, and institutional investors, is investing more than $2 billion in robotaxi developer Cruise in a move that will make Azure the preferred cloud service for both Cruise and GM.
Cruise is presently the only self-driving car company to operate an exclusive fleet of all-electric vehicles powered with renewable energy, and sees the new strategic partnership with Microsoft as a way to exploit the cloud computing capabilities of Azure and further develop self-driving technologies.
By selecting Azure as its preferred cloud and edge computing platform, Cruise says it will be able to commercializeOpens a new window its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale and the partnership will help the two companies bring together their software and hardware engineering excellence, cloud computing capabilities, and manufacturing know-how to transform transportation in the days ahead.
Big news for us! Cruise is teaming up with @MicrosoftOpens a new window , one of the world’s most respected leaders in AI and cloud computing, as we make the shift from R&D to commercializing self-driving vehicles:
â€” cruise (@Cruise) January 19, 2021Opens a new window
â€œOur mission to bring safer, better and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race â€“ it’s also a trust race. Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles,â€ said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann.
In a major boost to Microsoft, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said her company would also be treating Azure as its preferred cloud and edge computing platform. The partnership with Cruise and GM, which enjoys a majority stake at Cruise, will also enable Microsoft to further refine its customer-driven product innovation and automotive solutions.
â€œMicrosoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth,â€ said Barra.
The automotive heavyweight will also use the cloud computing capabilities of Azure to accelerate its digitization initiatives, including collaboration, storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, and to streamline operations across digital supply chains, foster productivity and introduce new mobility services.
The $2 billion equity investment into Cruise will be Microsoft’s second such foray into the automotive sector since 2018. In late 2018, the company inked a partnershipOpens a new window with Volkswagen to develop the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud from scratch, powered by Mirosoft’s Azure cloud and IoT Edge platform.
Volkswagen’s vision, which sealed the partnership between the automotive and software giants, is to create a seamless experience for drivers from the moment they enter, use, and leave their vehicles. The experiences could include listening to the same music as they enter the driver’s seat, making calls, and checking calendar appointments.
â€œThe strategic partnership with Microsoft will turbocharge our digital transformation. Volkswagen, as one of the world’s largest automakers, and Microsoft, with its unique technological expertise, are outstandingly well-matched. Together, we will play a key role in shaping the future of auto-mobility,â€ said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG.
Once developed and synced with Azure cloud, the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud will help the company to provide new services and solutions such as in-car consumer experiences, telematics, and the ability to securely connect data between the car and the cloud. Volkswagen’s ambition is to fully connect more than five million vehicles to the IoT cloud from 2020 onwards and help users connect to Microsoft cloud services such as Azure IoT, PowerBI, and Skype.
In the future, the solutions developed through this partnership will be rolled out to other Volkswagen Group brands in all regions of the world, building the foundation for all customer-centric services of the brands. This includes the Volkswagen ID electric family as well as conventionally-powered models. The end goal is a future fleet of cars which will behave as mobile â€˜internet of things’ hubs, linked by Microsoft Azure,â€ Volkswagen said.
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