Microsoft Azure has announced that it will provide the cloud services behind Chinese internet giant Baidu’s self-driving car efforts.
The collaboration will see Microsoft’s cloud computing platform used in driverless operations outside of China.
Microsoft is one of 50 businesses which have joined a self-driving car alliance headed up by Baidu. The Apollo alliance was established in April this year and aims to provide an open platform for the automotive industry to advance the development of autonomous vehicles.
‘By using Azure, our partners outside of China will have access to a trustworthy and secure public cloud, enabling them to focus on innovating instead of building their own cloud-based infrastructure,’ said Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu.
Through the new partnership, the U.S. firm will allow alliance members to collaborate, share findings and access analytical capabilities across the Azure platform.
‘Today’s vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data. By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning, and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer,’ said Kevin Dallas, corporate VP of Internet of Things and Intelligent Cloud at Microsoft.
While the two companies did not comment on why the partnership would not span to mainland China, stringent internet regulations in the country mean that Microsoft would be restricted in operating such a platform within Chinese borders.
Many large tech giants have jumped into developing their own driverless vehicles, such as Waymo (Google), Uber and Tesla. However, rather than investing in its own self-driving fleet, Microsoft has thus far opted to strengthen its software capabilities in the field by collaborating with car manufacturers.
Automotive firms including BMW, Ford and Toyota have already joined up with Microsoft to implement its technologies within their connected car systems, including for predictive maintenance and in-car infotainment.