Microsoft and Baidu announced plans Tuesday (July 18) to partner to drive adoption of self-driving cars around the globe.
In a press release the companies said that as part of the Apollo alliance, Microsoft will provide global scale for the Apollo alliance outside of China with its Azure cloud. “We’re excited to partner with Baidu to take a giant step in helping automotive manufacturers and suppliers fully realize the promise of autonomous driving,” said Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president of Microsoft, in a press release. “Today’s vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data. By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer.”
In the press release the companies, citing McKinsey, said up to 15 percent of new cars sold in 2030 will be fully autonomous. That fuels the need for an ecosystem of partners to collaborate in support of a common goal. Announced by Baidu in April this year, Apollo is an open platform that provides a secure solution that supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle. The project, named after NASA’s lunar landing program, consists of cloud services, an open software stack, reference hardware and vehicle platforms. More than 50 partners from a wide range of sectors have joined the Apollo alliance, including global navigation and mapping service provider TomTom, Bosch and Continental, and Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing platform Grab. “We are excited to have Microsoft as part of the Apollo alliance. Our goal with Apollo is to provide an open and powerful platform to the automotive industry to further the goal of autonomous vehicles,” said Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu in the same release. “By using Azure, our partners outside of China will have access to a trustworthy and secure public cloud, enabling them to focus on innovating instead of building their own cloud-based infrastructure.”