Volkswagen and Microsoft team up on autonomous driving

11 Feb 2021

Image: © Moose/Stock.adobe.com

The tech giant and the car company will collaborate on a new cloud-based platform that aims to speed up the development of autonomous driving tech.

As the race towards a future of self-driving cars continues, German car company Volkswagen has teamed up with Microsoft to speed up the delivery autonomous driving at a global scale.

The two companies have been strategic partners on the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud since 2018. The first of its connected test fleets are expected to hit the road in 2021, with production roll-out planned for 2022.

Now, Volkswagen’s software division, the Car.Software organisation, will build a new cloud-based automated driving platform (ADP) on Microsoft Azure.

This will leverage Microsoft’s computing and data capabilities, which Microsoft has said will increase the efficiency of the development of advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving functions for Volkswagen passenger cars.

Having begun operations in January 2020, the Car.Software organisation plays a key role in accelerating Volkswagen’s move towards becoming a software-driven mobility provider.

By 2025, Volkswagen plans to invest around €27bn in digitalisation, increasing its in-house software development from 10pc to 60pc.

Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO of Car.Software, said the team is building the ADP with Microsoft to simplify its developers’ work through one scalable, data-based engineering environment.

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“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,” he said.

Autonomous vehicles require huge amounts of data on road and weather conditions, obstacle detection and driver behaviour. This data helps to train, simulate and validate autonomous driving functions using machine learning algorithms.

According to Microsoft, the simplified database and machine learning capabilities of the ADP will help reduce the development cycles of autonomous vehicles from months to weeks and efficiently manage large amounts of data.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice-president of cloud and AI at Microsoft, said this is “the next evolution” of the company’s work with the Volkswagen Group.

“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,” he said.

The companies will start working on the platform immediately and it is expected to first come into play at the end of 2024.

Last week, Google and Ford announced a new partnership that will bring Android tech to Ford cars and accelerate the auto company’s digital transformation with cloud and AI technology.

Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com