On Thursday, Volkswagen AG said it would use Microsoft's cloud computing services to help it streamline its self-driving car software creation efforts.
Owned by companies such as Audi and Porsche, Volkswagen is focusing on both future self-driving cars and driver-assistance technologies such as adaptive cruise control in existing vehicles. All such features were separately produced by the company's mark.
Last year, Volkswagen merged some of these production activities into a division called Car. Software to help collaborate between vendors, with each firm handling its own work around the software's look and feel while coordinating on key security features.
But, Dirk Hilgenberg, chief executive of Car. Software, told Reuters in an interview, the various businesses within the company were already using different platforms to build the software, and the agreement agreed Thursday would position them on a similar cloud provider.
The Microsoft contract would also make it much easier to introduce tech upgrades to bring fresh functionality to cars - a trend that early on helped set Tesla apart from many rivals.
In 2018, Volkswagen agreed with Microsoft to connect its vehicles to Microsoft's Azure cloud computing service. The Thursday agreement suggests that on the same server, app upgrades will be generated that will then beam those updates down to the vehicles.
Hilgenberg said that over-the-air alerts are paramount. " Hilgenberg said. " If you can't do that, you're going to lose ground.'
In realistic terms, the contract suggests that cars with a few driver-assistance features that originally hit the road today will incorporate additional functionality over time that move them closer to autonomous driving, said Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of cloud and artificial intelligence.
For our mobile, 15 or 20 years ago, when you bought them, they never really improved. Now, we thought that there will be new updates every week or every few days, quietly," Guthrie told Reuters in an interview. "That ability to start to program the vehicle in richer and richer ways, and in a safe way, transforms how the experience works."