Microsoft unveils connected car platform to manage heavy lifting of data

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Microsoft has unveiled a new platform aimed at helping car manufacturers make sense of the volume of data that is produced by connected vehicles.

The platform, which will be available as a public preview later this year, will use a range of Microsoft services such as virtual assistants, business applications and productivity tools.

Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice-President, Business Development, said the platform is not a conventional in-car operating system, rather a means to improve in-car productivity and navigation, as well as to enable autonomous driving.

She said: "Microsoft’s cloud will do the heavy lifting by ingesting huge volumes of sensor and usage data from connected vehicles, and then helping automakers apply that data in powerful ways."

Johnson said an example of how it would work would be a person telling the Cortana digital assistant to set up a meeting for the next day in a nearby coffee shop. When the person gets into their car on the day of the meeting, they are reminded of when and where it is, plus navigation to get them there.

Renault-Nissan is the first car manufacturer to commit to using the new platform. It also said at this week's CES that it was exploring how Cortana can make driving "more efficient and seamless".

Johnson said the move showed that Microsoft was not keen on building its own connected car. She said: "Instead, we want to help automakers create connected car solutions that fit seamlessly with their brands, address their customers’ unique needs, competitively differentiate their products and generate new and sustainable revenue streams.

"Our customers have shared that they want to work with a partner that not only offers the right tools, but also allows them to keep their data, has a secure and compliant cloud platform, and operates at a truly global scale (given that most automotive brands operate in more than one country)."