The Volkswagen group has partnered with the world's biggest software company, Microsoft, to enhance its capabilities in the realm of autonomous driving. Volkswagen massively lags behind companies like Tesla, Waymo and Baidu in this regard and hence tackling this issue by enabling its Car.Software organisation to collaborate with Microsoft which will build a cloud-based automated driving platform on the Redmond based company's intelligent cloud platform dubbed Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft Azure is the preeminent hybrid cloud platform in the world with most data centre regions. That being said, Microsoft lags behind the industry leader and innovator Amazon Web Services. This partnership makes sense as Microsoft and Volkswagen have been strategic partners since 2018 on the Automotive Cloud which has enabled the digital transformation of Europe's largest automotive group.
"As we transform Volkswagen Group into a digital mobility provider, we are looking to continuously increase the efficiency of our software development. We are building the Automated Driving Platform with Microsoft to simplify our developers' work through one scalable and data-based engineering environment. By combining our comprehensive expertise in the development of connected driving solutions with Microsoft's cloud and software engineering know-how, we will accelerate the delivery of safe and comfortable mobility services," said Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO of the Car.Software Organisation.
"This is the next evolution of our foundational work with the Volkswagen Group to enhance their transformation as a software-driven mobility provider," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI at Microsoft. "The power of Microsoft Azure and its compute, data and AI capabilities will enable Volkswagen to deliver secure and reliable automated driving solutions to their customers faster," said Guthrie who is a close allay for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as he took over the reins of the cloud platform when the former was elevated to the position of CEO in 2014.
One of the most important things for Volkswagen will be the deployment of advanced ADAS and automated driving solutions which enable better passenger safety and reduce congestion on the roads. Petabytes of data are needed and Microsoft's cloud platform is perfectly positioned to assist with this helping train machine learning algorithms parse through road data, weather conditions, simulate autonomous models and learn from billions of real and simulated miles driven.
Car.Software will leverage Microsoft's expertise in simplifying the developer experience and leveraging learnings from miles driven through a unified database comprising of real traffic data from the Group's vehicles. Microsoft Azure compute, data and machine learning services will be integrated on top of this. This will enable to reduce development cycles from months to weeks.
This also comes at a time when the Volkswagen group is increasingly bringing software development in-house. It has committed 27 billion euros to digitise itself and bring software development in-house to 60 per cent from a minuscule 10 per cent right now by 2025.
This partnership will be built on top of the partnership the two mega-corporations have already for the Volkswagen automotive cloud. Volkswagen has an engineering unit in Seattle which in the home city of Microsoft which enabled data to be exchanged between vehicles and the cloud through Microsoft Azure edge. This is has been one of the ways over the air updates have been enabled for Volkswagen's vehicles.
The first fruit of the connected car test fleets will hit the roads in 2021 but full production is planned for 2022. Car.Software will integrate the automated driving platform and the automative cloud.