We seem to have a number of automotive announcements this week, with Volkswagen the latest to detail its plans for the future, and in particular connected, self-driving cars. To that end VW and Microsoft have announced a partnership which will see the latter provide the much needed cloud computing technology to help bring connected autonomous vehicles to life.
The pair have been working together for several years already when it comes to connectivity, but now attention is being directed at autonomous vehicles in particular, with efforts also ramping up in this regard as VW aims to have something ready to show off as soon as possible.
“As we transform Volkswagen Group into a digital mobility provider, we are looking to continuously increase the efficiency of our software development. We are building the Automated Driving Platform (ADP) with Microsoft to simplify our developers’ work through one scalable and data-based engineering environment,” notes Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO of the Car.Software Organisation of the partnership.
“This is the next evolution of our foundational work with the Volkswagen Group to enhance their transformation as a software-driven mobility provider. 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,” adds said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI at Microsoft.
As for what the endgame here is, VW explains that this is not simply about selling more cars, but rather being part of larger digital ecosystems, such as smart cities that have fleets of autonomous vehicles from a myriad carmakers operating in the same region.
The company is also looking at how these connected self-driving cars could be implemented in ridesharing, micro-mobility and short-term rental setups.
This plan is already taking shape and could see actual vehicles arrive as soon as next year to enter the next phase of this larger project that VW is undertaking.
“The first VW.AC connected test fleets are expected to hit the road in 2021. Production rollout is planned for 2022. Car.Software Organisation will integrate ADP and VW.AC as the company moves toward further integrating their software solutions, tools and methods to empower its engineering teams, customers, and partners globally. With VW.AC, the AD and ADAS functions developed on top of ADP can be tested, deployed and operated across the Group’s vehicle fleet,” the company’s announcement confirms.
Hopefully there is a role for South Africa to play here, especially as Volkswagen manufactures selected models on our shores to be shipped across the globe.