VW teams with Microsoft on software for self-driving car
Volkswagen has announced that it is expanding its collaboration with technology company Microsoft. The deal allows the German car manufacturer to integrate Microsoft’s cloud technology. Both firms’ software branches will join forces to create a common platform called Automated Driving Platform (ADP).
In the end, this should severely speed up and facilitate the development of autonomous driving. Both companies already struck a deal in 2018 and are now tying up their efforts.
The cloud-based platform will make it a lot easier to capture data on the driver, vehicle, and traffic behavior (it is called ‘learnings from miles driven’), further enhancing the framework for autonomous driving. Alongside, ADP will also uplift the connectivity of Volkswagen’s products.
In other ways, the partnership resembles the software approach of Tesla. Microsoft is helping Volkswagen make it possible for its customers to retrospectively activate assistance systems that were not included at the time of purchase.
These are so-called over-the-air updates, which are regarded crucial for the future functionality of cars. By adding these features later on also, older cars can gradually adopt more autonomous driving skills. It’s a matter of software, as Tesla has outlined before.
Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of cloud and artificial intelligence at Microsoft, explained to Reuters: “For our phones 15 or 20 years ago when you bought it, it pretty much never changed. Now, we expect every week or every couple of days that, silently, there are new features. That ability to start to program the vehicle in richer and richer ways, and in a safe way, transforms how the experience works.”
Volkswagen had already begun aligning the software development efforts of its sub-brands in the subsidiary Cars.software. Previously each brand got its own take on digitalization. Jointly they only focused on some specific challenges such as obstacle detection, for example. The deal with Microsoft will put all of them on the same cloud provider and reduce development work from months to weeks.
Cars are getting more and more computerized, so it’s no surprise that the industry is pursuing tight collaborations with tech companies. Ford shook hands with Google. The Hyundai Group had set its sights on Apple.
By 2025, Volkswagen will invest around 27 billion euros in digitalization and increase the proportion of in-house software development in the car to 60 percent from 10 percent today.