German automaker Volkswagen will utilize the US-based multinational technology company Microsoft’s cloud computing services to help it streamline its software development efforts for self-driving cars.
Volkswagen, which owns luxury vehicle brands like Audi and Porsche is currently working on both self-driving cars for the future and driver-assistance features like adaptive cruise control in vehicles. But the company’s brand had been developing those features independently.
Last year, Volkswagen combined some of its development efforts into a subsidiary called Car.Software to bring better coordination among the automakers in handling its work around the look and feel of the software while collaborating on core safety functions like detecting obstacles.
As the different companies inside the group were still using various systems to develop that software the Microsoft deal will help to put them on a common cloud provider, Dirk Hilgenberg, chief executive of Car.Software.
The new deal will also make deploying software updates to add new features to cars, a practice that helped set Tesla apart from many rivals early on.
In 2018, Volkswagen had entered into a partnership with Microsoft to connect its cars to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service and with the new deal software updates will be developed on the same cloud then will be transferred to the cars.
“Over-the-air updates are paramount. This functionality needs to be there. If you can’t do it, you will lose ground,” Hilgenberg said.
In practical terms, the deal means that cars that initially touched the road with very few driver-assistance features now could update new capabilities over time that brings them closer to autonomous driving, said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of cloud and artificial intelligence at Microsoft.