Mobility as a Service (Maas) is an emerging sector which is highly lucrative. It encompasses many modes of transportation on a single platform, which will turn the current mobility and car ownership patterns upside down.
Smart mobility would be primarily data-driven, and this would mean enhancing current data analytics capabilities. For this, automotive companies require cutting edge technology solutions and capacity building. This is where tech giants are scrambling to provide customized tech services like AI, IoT, Cloud, edge. Perhaps this is why, this year, for the first time, Microsoft attended The Frankfurt Motor Show to outline its smart mobility strategy.
“Microsoft partners with automotive companies to revolutionize mobility with digital technology—building differentiated experiences, accelerating automotive innovation, monetizing data and services, and redefining transportation for a cleaner, safer world”, says Alysa Taylor, Corporate Vice President, Business Applications & Industry, Microsoft.
Microsoft is currently focusing on five areas: connected vehicle solutions, autonomous driving development, smart mobility solutions, connected marketing, sales and service as well as intelligent manufacturing and supply chain.
“We support automotive companies as they enhance and extend their unique brand experiences to expand their relationships with their customers,” says Sanjay Ravi, General Manager, Automotive Industry, Microsoft in an official Microsoft blog post.
For empowering connected vehicle providers, Microsoft has developed its own Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) that provides companies advanced cloud and edge computing services. As a part of this program, Microsoft has inked partnerships with Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It is actively collaborating with more tech players. LG Electronics, Faurecia, and Cube Telecom are some of the other major partners of MCVP. Microsoft Azure Virtual Assistant Solution Accelerator simplifies the creation of personalized voice assistance for cars.
Supporting start-up ecosystem
With the mainstreaming of autonomous technology and the development of connected cars, car-sharing and self-driving ride-hailing services, automakers have to buckle up for the disruption that will be unleashed.
Big automakers like Audi are using Microsoft Azure for creating simulations using huge volume of data. However, Microsoft is not limited to only big automakers; it is focusing on companies of all market size, including start-ups.
In order to boost the development of autonomous vehicles and create a level playing field for technology access, Microsoft recently announced ‘Microsoft for Startups: Autonomous Driving’ program. Start-ups have long been at the forefront of autonomous technology developing and creating new business models for the industry. They are also playing a leading role in developing enabling technologies like data management, sensors and simulation.
Creation of an extensive, world-class partner ecosystem is at the core of Microsft strategy for autonomous vehicles and supporting start-ups is a key part of it.
“The MfS-AD program is another example of our continuing commitment to the AD startup community. We want to empower pioneering startups who are defining what is next in autonomous driving by helping them scale up and scale out through business and technical enablement”, says the official Microsoft announcement.
Tech enablement via collaboration
For enabling smart mobility, one needs precise HD maps, up-to-date location intelligence and navigation.
“Intelligent mapping and navigation services are critical to building smart mobility solutions. This is why Microsoft is partnering with companies like TomTom and Moovit”, says Ravi.
He further adds that TomTom is integrating their navigation intelligence services such as HD Maps and Traffic as containerized services for use in MCVP so that other in-vehicle services, including autonomous driving, can take advantage of the additional location context.
Democratization of autonomous tech so that it reaches everyone in an inclusive manner is also one of the dedicated aims of Microsoft. Mass scale digital transformation is inconceivable without an integrated supply chain from the assembly line of the factory right to the dealership or customer’s doorstep. Microsoft is working with Icertis, BMW, and others to build an intelligent supply chain.
The tech giant has also developed dedicated business applications using which the whole network of its partners, suppliers, and retailers can gain new insights and create better customer experiences.
BMW and Microsoft are working together to develop the Open Manufacturing Platform that would enable industrial manufacturers to work together to break down data silos and overcome the challenges of complex, proprietary systems that slow down production optimization.
Going through these active partnerships and collaborations, it would not be an understatement to say that the era of autonomy would witness automakers and big tech players working in tandem.