Microsoft Corp. and Baidu Inc. announced plans to partner in order to push the technical development and adoption of autonomous driving Apollo platform worldwide. As a member of the Apollo alliance, Microsoft will provide for this self driving platform global scale outside China through the Microsoft Azure cloud.
According to McKinsey, up to 15% of new cars sold in 2030 will be fully autonomous. This fuels the need for an ecosystem of partners to collaborate in support of a common goal.
As part of the partnership, Baidu and Microsoft plan to explore opportunities to deliver connected vehicle solutions and unique customer experiences that aim to digitally transform the autonomous driving industry.
A “Chinese baked” Apollo, to “conquer” the world
Last April the Chinese Internet search firm announced the launch of a broad alliance to boost the development and adoption of Apollo, the Chinese tech platform facing that of Alphabet’s Waymo.
Apollo is an open platform that provides a comprehensive, secure and reliable solution that supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle. The project, named after the historic lunar landing program to illustrate its scale and complexity, consists of cloud services, an open software stack, and reference hardware and vehicle platforms.
The alliance around Apollo included over 50 partnerships with automotive companies (such as Ford and Daimler, as several Chinese companies such as Chery Automobile, BAIC Motor, FAW Group Corp, Chongqing Changan Automobile and Great Wall Motor), suppliers (Bosch and Continental), startups, universities, tech cos. (including Intel, Nvidia -AI provider- and TomTom NV -navigation and mapping service provider -, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing platform Grab) as well as local governments.
Baidu is one of the companies, who has invested in Nio, the Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup backed by Tencent and Lenovo. Nio plans to launch its first self driving car in the USA by 2020. Baidu expects to introduce first autonomous driving vehicles in China by 2019.
Microsoft, supporting connected vehicles’ data management for first raw automotive companies
Microsoft has already been working with leaders in the automotive industry to help manufacturers manage huge volumes of sensor and usage data from connected vehicles and apply that data to deliver actionable intelligence. Companies like BMW, Ford, Renault-Nissan, Toyota and Volvo are all using or have announced plans to adopt Microsoft’s intelligent cloud technology to help with services like driver assist, predictive maintenance and voice-controlled media.
Image over the headline.- NIO EP9 at SXSW 2017. © NIO
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