Volkswagen has signed a deal with Microsoft to use its Azure cloud platform to accelerate the development of automated driving for its portfolio of cars.

Volkswagen said that its software company (Car.Software Organisation) will “collaborate with Microsoft to build a cloud-based Automated Driving Platform (ADP) on Microsoft Azure and leverage its compute and data capabilities to deliver automated driving experiences even faster at global scale.”

This is not the first time that Volkswagen has made news on the tech front. In 2017 it joined forces with tech giant Google to carry out research into new technology, using a quantum computer.

Automated driving

Both Volkswagen and Google used the quantum computer to research traffic optimisation, material simulations (especially for high-performance batteries for electric vehicles and new materials), and finally new machine learning processes needed for autonomous driving.

Now four years later Volkswagen says with its ADP running on Azure, Car.Software Organisation will accelerate the development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and AD functions for passenger cars across Volkswagen brands (which includes Audi, Skoda, Porsche and even Bugatti).

It was pointed out that Volkswagen and Microsoft have been strategic partners on the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud since 2018, which will span all of Volkswagen’s future digital services and mobility offerings.

“As we transform Volkswagen Group into a digital mobility provider, we are looking to continuously increase the efficiency of our software development,” said Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO of the Car.Software Organisation.

“We are building the Automated Driving Platform with Microsoft to simplify our developers’ work through one scalable and data-based engineering environment,” said Hilgenberg. “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.”

“This is the next evolution of our foundational work with the Volkswagen Group to enhance their transformation as a software-driven mobility provider,” added Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI at Microsoft.

Safety focus

Both firms pointed out that advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) equipped cars promise to deliver greater safety for car driving in the future.

Not only safety improvements, but it is also hoped that ADAS will help with reducing congestion and improve comfort.

But developing this requires large-scale computational capabilities.

Volkswagen said this involves petabytes of data from road and weather conditions to obstacle detection and driver behaviour need to be managed every day for the training, simulation and validation of AD functions.

Machine learning algorithms that learn from billions of real and simulated miles driven are key to connected driving experiences, it said.

By 2025, Volkswagen will invest around 27 billion euros in digitalisation and increase the proportion of in-house development of software in the car to 60 percent from 10 percent today, it concluded.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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