With technology in our cars advancing at turbocharged speeds, it’s no surprise that household names like Apple and Microsoft are starting to pop up more frequently than ever. Even 10 years ago, talking about Microsoft and cars or Apple and cars just seemed out of place, but today, we’re about to talk about an all-new partnership between Microsoft and Nissan, as they up the ante on bringing better connectivity into mainstream, mass-market vehicles.

Azure is an intelligent cloud of sorts that is offered by Microsoft and will surely find its way into Nissan and Renault vehicles in the near future. This partnership will allow Microsoft and Nissan to work together in developing advanced features like over-the-air updates, remote monitors, advanced vehicle protection, and even autonomous and collision-avoidance systems. The overall aim of this partnership is to launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous driving technology by 2020, all of which will use Azure services to help passengers make better use of their “free time” in the car.

Ogi Redzic, the Senior VP of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said, “A car is becoming increasingly connected, intelligent and personal. 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.”

According to Nissan, this partnership with Microsoft was chosen, in part, because of the brand’s “enterprise-grade” security and Microsoft’s “commitment to compliance.” Furthermore, Azure will provide extreme flexibility to help in building a common platform for use within the Renault-Nissan alliance.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

I won’t pretend to know much about Microsoft Azure. In fact, I’ve never been much of a Microsoft fan to be completely honest. But, after some quick research, Microsoft Azure seems to be a promising cloud system. User reviews at g2crowd.com and PC Mag all show promising reviews with an average rating of four stars or, more specifically, 4.2 out of 5. User reviews seem to show that the system is easy to use and allows the deployment of various infrastructures, web apps, and SQL databases.

All this technical jargon translates to easy development and distribution to vehicles for Renault and Nissan, while having what some believe is excellent support from a massive brand like Microsoft. I think that boasting the potential for 10 vehicles with autonomous tech by 2020 seems to be a pretty long reach for Nissan and Renault, but hopefully, this partnership makes it possible and helps the two brands step into the ring with the big boys.

Press Release

Photo Credit: Nissan

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Microsoft Corp. have signed a global, multiyear agreement to partner on next-generation technologies to advance connected driving experiences worldwide.

The companies will work together to develop next-generation connected services for cars powered by Microsoft Azure, one of the company’s intelligent cloud offerings. These new services will improve customer experience via advanced navigation, predictive maintenance and vehicle centric services, remote monitoring of car features, external mobile experiences and over-the-air updates.

"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 Renault-Nissan Alliance is pioneering autonomous driving and connectivity features on mainstream, mass-market vehicles at affordable prices. The Alliance aims to develop connectivity technologies and features to support the launch of more than 10 vehicles with autonomous driving technology by 2020 with services to maximize better use of newly found in-car free time.

Renault-Nissan will continuously develop and launch new connected services and applications that make it easier for people to stay connected to work, entertainment and social networks, and offer vehicle centric services that will simplify and enhance engagement with the car through usage-based information, remote access, remote diagnostics and preventive maintenance

Microsoft Azure provides a proven, secure global cloud platform with unlimited scale that allows Renault-Nissan to deliver services worldwide to its broad customer base.

Renault-Nissan selected Azure in part because of its enterprise-grade security and Microsoft’s rigorous commitment to compliance. In addition, Azure supports multiple operating systems, programming languages and tools, providing flexibility and choice to build a common platform for Renault-Nissan to deploy services to both Alliance brands.

"While the connected car experience is in its infancy, we believe there’s so much potential to dramatically change the industry," said Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft. "We are partnering to accelerate Renault-Nissan’s mobile and cloud strategies and unlock new experiences for their customers. 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."

Focus on Next-Generation Technologies

The partnership will accelerate development of best-in-class infotainment and location-based services that will:

Allow customers to personalize and protect their settings
Customers will be able to customize their settings knowing that data is safe and that they have the option to transfer the settings from one car to another, or lock them and disable transfer. By adding a driver-centric experience in the car, the drive becomes personal and allows for things like adaptive route suggestions and advanced navigation.

Productivity
With Microsoft, Renault-Nissan will expand the realm of productivity into the car – transforming the daily commute into a productive experience by seamlessly integrating the digital experiences present at work and life into the car.

Give access to over-the-air updates
Customers will be able to download over-the-air updates to, for example, have the latest autonomous drive software and collision-avoidance applications.

Help customers stay in touch
Customers will be able to easily check in and communicate their estimated time of arrival, or alert friends to a change of plans. They will also be able to use automatic payment from the car for highway tolls or parking, with a simple touch from the comfort of their seat.

Monitor the car from a distance
Car owners will be able to monitor their car from anywhere, through their mobile phone or laptop. They could transfer control to a friend or relative who needs their car – without transferring physical keys. They will use a mobile application that helps them find the car, can trigger remote charging and preconditioning and lock and unlock the car.

Protect the vehicle
Tracking software locates a stolen car and disables it at the next practical opportunity. "Geofencing" technology creates invisible fences around the car that will enable notifications when the car enters or exits a predefined area or route.

Improve the vehicle experience
By adding connectivity, customers will be able to have access to advance vehicle diagnostic services, allowing the car manufacturer to deliver unique features. Collecting real usage data will also support vehicle engineering to improve manufacturing quality.

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