The automotive industry is rapidly transforming. With today’s breakthrough digital technologies, the pace of innovation has accelerated to Autobahn speeds, with seemingly no limits to where the industry can go.

At the end of 2018, I shared standout examples of how we are partnering with industry leaders as we drive joint innovation for automotive globally. Since then, we’ve experienced first-hand just how fast that speed of innovation can be. Here’s a look at momentum with our automotive customers and partners over the past four months in key areas of transformation:

  • Connected vehicles
  • Autonomous development
  • Smart mobility
  • Connected marketing, sales and service
  • Intelligent manufacturing & supply chain

Connected vehicles

In our ongoing efforts to help automakers provide connected, productive, and safe mobility experiences anywhere to the customer, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance announced it is deploying a vehicle connectivity platform that will transform the digital experience for their customers, powered by the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform.

We also have some exciting partnership updates with Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler AG. Our first lighthouse projects with Volkswagen for connected vehicles are poised to set a new bar for personalized services and redefine the future of mobility. BMW announced its newest initiative, BMW Natural Interaction, combining in-car AI with Microsoft Azure cloud technologies to allow for more intuitive interactions with the car’s systems.

And Daimler is on the path to drive innovation globally with eXtollo, the company’s new cloud platform for big data and advanced analytics. What they are doing would have normally taken years—the cloud helps them to bring this to more than 200 countries overnight.

We also entered into several new collaborations to help simplify and enhance connected vehicle services. Cubic Telecom extended its collaboration with Microsoft to become the seamless global connectivity provider as a core service offering to the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform. TomTom will power Microsoft cloud offerings with location-based services, and  Moovit, TomTom and Microsoft unveiled the world’s first truly comprehensive multi-modal trip planner.

Autonomous development

Microsoft’s goal is to serve as a trusted partner for those in the automotive industry looking to deploy and operate toolchains for the development of autonomous vehicles (AV), and we’re proud to be a part of this journey.

Just last month, W Motors and ICONIQ Motors unveiled their first autonomous car in partnership with AKKA Technologies, Magna Steyr and Microsoft, with production vehicles planned for 2023. And earlier this year, LG Electronics and Microsoft entered into a memorandum of understanding to enhance and further grow LG’s autonomous vehicle and infotainment system business.

Teaming with Microsoft partner Cognata, Audi AG is also speeding its AV development with Cognata’s cloud-based simulation platform, running on Microsoft Azure. And Visteon Corp. is breaking new ground by enhancing its DriveCore Studio autonomous driving development environment, tapping into Azure to securely meet the computing demands of Level 3-plus autonomous systems.

Elektrobit is doing forward-thinking work with Azure to help the industry prepare for a future of AV driving by storing and processing PB-scale test data in the cloud, while Linker Networks is using Azure for its new auto-labeling service for autonomous driving. And ZF has expanded its partnership with Microsoft to establish one of the most comprehensive digital cloud platforms in the automotive market for services including automated driving and vehicle motion control. It is all very exciting!

Smart mobility

A significant focus for us is helping to enable a connected ecosystem between cities, our infrastructures and vehicles, made intelligent by data and insights. This smart, connected ecosystem will enable new opportunities for our societies and the cities in which we live.

A great example of this is the pioneering city of Denver in the United States. Its latest step is to bring together data from many sensors—from intelligent traffic lights to air pollution sensors and connected vehicles—to gain a holistic view of city data, gather insights, and act on them to improve experiences for everyone. The system, supported by Microsoft Azure Data Lake and Azure IoT Hub, will help the city optimize travel times, prioritize emergency and transit vehicles, and make intersections safer.

The government of New South Wales, Australia’s largest state, is teaming up with Cubic Transportation Systems and Microsoft to use the latest technologies to put an end to holiday traffic jams and simplify the daily journey for millions of travelers in Sydney. And with the help of Microsoft AI, its railway engineering company, Downer Rail, built a TrainDNA program to turn data into insights for safer, more reliable commutes.

Wilson Parking has also launched an innovative digital solution, using Microsoft Azure, for drivers using the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the world’s longest sea bridge, to provide a seamless parking experience and smooth traffic flows. Drivers can now pre-book parking spaces at the Hong Kong section.

Connected marketing, sales and service

With Microsoft technologies, automakers can develop distinct brand identities and omnichannel customer experiences by combining new mobility services with existing automotive retail practices.

Hendrick Automotive Group recently implemented Microsoft 365 to assure its dealerships could provide a modern, transparent experience. Here, they share how they have improved communications with customers, sped sales and service interactions, and lowered operating costs, all while being less invasive than any other upgrade in company history.

Working with our partner Annata, Brimborg, a leader in the automotive business in Iceland, is using Dynamics 365 to help them innovate their company and improve customer satisfaction with the ability to look across their five brands, access sales figures immediately, and use the right data to adjust their marketing in real-time. And with Microsoft 365, innovation is also accelerating at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, helping the company to connect with and build better experiences for its customers around the world.

vStream and Audi Ireland have also announced the launch of Audi’s new augmented reality consumer experience, exclusively across a number of select Irish dealerships, using Microsoft Hololens to immerse customers in the latest technology features of the Audi A7. And BMW Park Lane, BMW’s London dealership, has introduced a new feature that allows customers to experience the new BMW X2 through HoloLens.

Intelligent manufacturing & supply chain

Microsoft is also helping the automotive industry create efficiencies and reduce costs with an intelligent supply chain powered by the factory of the future. As part of these efforts, at Hannover Messe, Microsoft and the BMW Group unveiled the Open Manufacturing Platform, a new community-driven initiative to spur faster, more cost-effective innovation in industrial IoT development.

Using Microsoft technologies, Toyota Material Handling Group is also innovating with AI, mixed reality (MR) and IoT to help its customers move goods quickly, frequently, accurately and safely.

And when it comes to more exciting capabilities of mixed reality, Toyota Motor Corp. shows how its workers in Japan are now using the precise MR capabilities of HoloLens to streamline tasks, improve quality and solve problems on the factory floor. Commercial truck manufacturer PACCAR is also one of the first companies to test Dynamics 365 Guides with HoloLens 2 to improve manufacturing productivity and employee onboarding.

Two great examples of infusing intelligence into the supply chain are with Icertis and ZF. We are delighted to partner with Icertis to help automakers like Mercedes-Benz develop new approaches to sourcing and leverage the power of blockchain to create a more ethical, sustainable supply chain. And with the flexibility and scalability of Azure, ZF OPENMATICS was able to bring a totally new asset tracking solution to market—to not just track the location of vehicles and assets, but also their status.

The road ahead

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Our DNA and digital approach put automakers and mobility service providers in the driver’s seat—enabling them to transform mobility experiences, accelerate auto industry innovation, create new business opportunities and reimagine sustainable transportation.

We look forward to working with our customers and partners to drive the future of mobility, using our technology to accelerate transformation faster than ever. To learn more about Microsoft in the automotive industry, visit our new Automotive Industry page.

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