She said Volkswagen said Thursday it will use cloud computing services from Microsoft to help it simplify software development efforts for automobiles.
Volkswagen, which owns brands such as Audi and Porsche, is working on both automated cars of the future and driver assistance features, such as adaptive cruise control in current cars, but the company brand has been developing these features independently.
And last year, Volkswagen consolidated some of these development efforts into a subsidiary organization called Car.Software to better coordinate software makers, with each company taking on its own work around the look and feel of the software while collaborating on basic safety functions, such as obstacle detection.
(Dirk Hilgenberg), CEO of Car.Software Group, said: The different companies within the group are still using different systems to develop this program, and that the deal announced today, Thursday, places it through a common cloud provider.
And Microsoft’s deal also makes publishing software updates to add new features to cars – a practice that helped differentiate Tesla from many competitors early on – much easier.
In 2018, Volkswagen signed a deal with Microsoft to connect its cars to the Azure cloud computing service.
Today’s deal means that software updates will be developed on the same cloud that then sends those updates to cars.
“Updates over the air are of the utmost importance,” said Helgenberg. “This function has to be in place, and if you can’t do that, we’ll lose the floor.”
In practical terms, the deal means that cars that initially started with some driver assistance features could add new capabilities over time that bring them closer to autonomous driving, said (Scott Guthrie), Microsoft’s executive vice president of cloud affairs and artificial intelligence.
He added: Our phones never changed when we bought them 15 or 20 years ago, while we now expect every week or every two days that there will be new features, and this ability to start programming the car in richer ways, and in a safer way, changes how the experience works.
Volkswagen is combining its expertise in autonomous driving systems with Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing to create what it calls the ADP Autonomous Driving Platform, and said: The ADP partnership helps reduce development cycles from months to weeks.
The development of autonomous driving technology requires managing massive amounts of data, so Volkswagen said: It relies on Microsoft for its computation, artificial intelligence and data capabilities.
Volkswagen joins the list of other car manufacturers that have recently recognized they need a tech company to help develop infotainment systems, autonomous driving and connected cars.