American technology giant Microsoft has entered into a long-term strategic relationship with General Motors and California-based self-driving car company Cruise to accelerate the commercialisation of self-driving vehicles.
The three companies announced on Tuesday the signing of a long-term strategic relationship which serves to unite the companies and bring together their individual software and hardware engineering know-how, cloud computing capabilities, manufacturing experience, and partner ecosystems to accelerate the development and safety of self-driving vehicles.
The strategic agreement is wide-ranging and will see Cruise leverage Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, Azure, to commercialise its autonomous vehicle solutions at scale.
Conversely, serving as Cruise’s preferred cloud provider, Microsoft will gain access to Cruise’s industry expertise so as to enhance its own customer-driven product innovation and while continuing Azure investment to serve transportation companies across the globe.
Microsoft will also join with General Motors, along with Honda and institutional investors, in a combined new equity investment worth over $US2 billion in Cruise.
Additionally, GM will work with Microsoft as its own preferred public cloud provider to accelerate the company’s digitisation initiatives which will see the two companies work together on collaboration, artificial intelligence, and machine learning capabilities. GM will also explore ways in which the two companies can streamline operations across digital supply chains, foster productivity, and bring to market new mobility services.
“Our mission to bring safer, better and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race – it’s also a trust race,” said Dan Ammann, Cruise CEO.
“Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles.”
“Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.
“As Cruise and GM’s preferred cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO.
“Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”
Owned by General Motors and serving as the company’s autonomous driving subsidiary, Cruise jumped into headlines last November after it was announced that American retail giant Walmart would collaborate with Cruise to test self-driving technology for pickups and deliveries.
Walmart will begin testing a pilot program with several autonomous Cruise delivery vehicles in Scottsdale, Arizona, early this year. Walmart looked to Cruise partly because of the company’s commitment to power its fleet of EVs with 100% renewable energy, part of Walmart’s larger aim of reaching zero emissions by 2040.