At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held in early January, software giant Microsoft announced the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, a set of services built on the Microsoft Azure cloud and designed to empower auto manufacturers to create custom connected driving experiences. The platform is, what the company says, “a mission to not only survive disruption, but to seize it as an opportunity.”
In her blog, Peggy Johnson, executive vice-president (Business Development), Microsoft, says, "The Connected Vehicle Platform “is not an in-car operating system or a ‘finished product’; it’s a living, agile platform that starts with the cloud as the foundation and aims to address five core scenarios that our partners have told us are key priorities: predictive maintenance, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and help building autonomous driving capabilities.
Microsoft’s cloud will do the heavy lifting by ingesting huge volumes of sensor and usage data from connected vehicles, and then helping automakers apply that data in powerful ways. Available as a public preview later this year, it brings the company’s intelligent services from across the company right into the car, including virtual assistants, business applications, office services and productivity tools like Cortana, Dynamics, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business.
More than ever before, connectivity has pervaded the car. No longer is it just a mode of transport from point A to point B. Instead, it has evolved into a hub of activity for daily life. As Microsoft says, people are looking to have truly connected experiences in their cars so that they can get more done, save time and make life easier. While safety and security are baseline requirements, the company’s services can help make a person’s work day more efficient.
Automakers take to Microsoft’s technology
The Renault-Nissan Alliance became the first automobile manufacturer to commit to the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform. At Nissan’s CES 2017 keynote address, the company said that the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform will power next-generation, connected vehicles with advanced navigation, predictive maintenance, remote monitoring of car features and more. Nissan also demonstrated on stage how productivity tools like Cortana can enhance a driver’s experience. In addition, Azure offers the flexibility and choice to build a common platform for Renault-Nissan to deploy services to both Alliance brands by supporting devices and vehicles that run on multiple operating systems, programming languages and tools.
Microsoft has already committed to partnerships with other carmakers. With Volvo, it is integrating Skype for business in its 90 Series cars, aimed at enhancing productivity and make joining conference calls from the car a breezy affair. It has also joined hands with BMW on the BMW Connected personal mobility companion service to develop a scalable platform based on Microsoft Azure technologies to deliver in-car productivity services through Office 365, as well as intelligent personal assistance for drivers.
Microsoft as a partner
Microsoft does not plan to build its own connected car. The company says, “We want to help automakers create connected car solutions that fit seamlessly with their brands, address their customers’ unique needs, competitively differentiate their products and generate new and sustainable revenue streams. Our customers have shared that they want to work with a partner that not only offers the right tools, but also allows them to keep their data, has a secure and compliant cloud platform, and operates at a truly global scale (given that most automotive brands operate in more than one country). In fact, 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies already rely on Microsoft’s cloud for these reasons.
Using our platform, automakers and suppliers can benefit from the billions of dollars we’ve already invested in the cloud. Azure offers more than 200 services available in 38 worldwide datacenter regions, with robust measures for security and the global compliance and privacy regulations that are required to support connected cars, letting automakers focus on innovation rather than building out their own cloud-based infrastructure.
Ultimately, Microsoft aspires to empower automakers in their goals for fully autonomous driving, with sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities, as well as advanced mapping services. As a company, it’s our mission to empower all industries and businesses not only to survive disruption, but to seize it as an opportunity. The investments we’re making in the automotive space extend to countless other industries, such as financial services, manufacturing and smart cities. Wherever there’s a ‘connected signal’, Microsoft wants to be the partner that can help its customers improve people’s lives — on the road, in the cloud and everywhere in between.”
Info, pic & graphics: Microsoft