Microsoft continues to delve into the transportation with yet another contract. Renault-Nissan and Microsoft announced today that they signed a global multiyear contract "to work on next-generation connected car technologies and driving experiences." It's a fancy way of saying that Microsoft intends to use their powerful services such as Microsoft Azure to add new features to vehicles.
Renault-Nissan and Microsoft are working together to improve the idea of autonomous driving among other innovative decisions. According to their announcement post, the alliance hopes to create vehicles that are affordable but have connective technologies such as advanced navigation, predictive maintenance, remote monitoring of car features, and more. The servers are planned to be updated through hassle free over-the-air. At least ten of them are planned to be available by the year 2020.
“A car is becoming increasingly connected, intelligent and personal,” said Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior vice-president, Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services. “Partnering with Microsoft allows us to accelerate the development of the associated key technologies needed to enable scenarios our customers want and build all-new ones they haven’t even imagined. We aim to become the provider of connected mobility for everyone with one single global platform.”
The features are planned to be customizable for the customer thanks to the security of using Azure technology. Route suggestions, productive daily tasks and news integrated (as with Mercedes-Benz In Car Office), and social network notifications that will keep drivers in the loop without interrupting their commute. Check on your car from a mobile phone or laptop or let your friend borrow the car without the need of a physical key. In fact, getting locked out of the car and hijacking would nearly be impossible.
But if you're still worried about the car getting stolen, there are even measures in place for that. A feature called "Geofencing" is planned to implement an invisible field around the car that notifies its owner when it moves through the defined area. Someone takes off with your car, you can locate and shut it down "at the next practical opportunity" which is likely to mean not in the middle of a highway.
“While the connected car experience is in its infancy, we believe there’s so much potential to dramatically change the industry. We are partnering to accelerate Renault-Nissan’s mobile and cloud strategies and unlock new experiences for their customers,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft. “Renault-Nissan is an exceptional partner thanks to its global presence and range of brands, which enable it to bring entirely new mobile and digital experiences to so many people. This collaboration will bring a new standard to connected cars.”
It may not be anytime soon that we'll see generally available 'smart cars' from Microsoft but if their manufacturing expectations go as planned, we'll certainly see them within the decade.