Volkswagen and Microsoft are jointly developing self-driving cars
Volkswagen and Microsoft are jointly developing self-driving cars

Volkswagen announced Thursday that it will switch to Microsoft's cloud computing services to simplify software development for cars.

Volkswagen, which owns brands like Audi and Porsche, is dedicated to both future self-driving cars and driver assistance functions such as cruise control in current cars. However, the company's brand has independently developed these features.

Last year, Volkswagen merged part of its development business into a subsidiary called Car.Software in order to better coordinate software providers. Each company is responsible for its own work regarding the appearance and usability of the software, while working together on safety features such as obstacle detection.

The CEO of Car.Software Group (Dirk Hilgenberg) said: The different companies in the group are still using different systems to develop this program and the deal announced today (Thursday) will benefit from a public cloud service provider.

The Microsoft deal also makes it easy to release software updates to add new features to the vehicle (a practice that helps Tesla differentiate itself from many of its early competitors).

In 2018, Volkswagen and Microsoft signed an agreement to link their cars to Azure cloud computing services.

Today's deal means that software updates will be developed in the same cloud and those updates will then be sent to the vehicle.

"Live updates are essential," Helgenberg said. "This functionality should be available. If you can't do that, we'll lose our word."

Microsoft's Executive Vice President for Cloud Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence (Scott Guthrie) said: “In fact, this agreement means that cars with specific driver assistance functions can add new features over time to bring them closer to autonomous driving.

He added: When we bought a cell phone 15 or 20 years ago, our cell phone never changed. From now on, we hope there will be new features every week or two, and we'll be able to use them richer and more secure. The car is programmed. A way to change the way an experiment works.

Volkswagen combined its autonomous driving systems expertise with Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing to create what is known as the Autonomous Driving Platform (ADP). An ADP partnership can shorten the development cycle from months to weeks.

The development of driverless driving technology requires managing large amounts of data, which is why Volkswagen said: It relies on Microsoft's computing, artificial intelligence and data capabilities.

Volkswagen recently joined the ranks of other automakers who realized they needed a technology company to develop infotainment systems, autonomous driving, and connected cars.

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