Renault, Nissan and Microsoft have announced that they are working together on connected driving technologies. The partnership is expected to deliver developments in vehicle navigation, maintenance prediction, remote control and monitoring, mobile platforms and over-the-air updates.
The two carmakers have been working together since 1999 by way of a strategic partnership called the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which has seen the development of new engines and eco-friendly technologies. It provides synergies across four main functions for the two firms, specifically engineering, manufacturing engineering and supply chain management, purchasing and human resources.
Autonomous driving and vehicle connectivity technologies are already one focus of work by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, with the aim of bringing such tech to mass market vehicles affordably and creating services that will allow people to make use of newfound free time in the autonomous vehicles of the future. For its part, Microsoft will be providing its Azure cloud platform for these connected services.
Security and compliance are two of the reasons that the Renault-Nissan Alliance has chosen to work with Azure. In addition, though, its scalability and support for "multiple operating systems, programming languages and tools" give it the flexibility to build different platforms for the two different firms.
Among the services that are expected to be developed by the three companies are diagnostics tools for users and personalization tools for customizing a vehicle's setup. One example is the provision of navigation with routes tailored to a user's preferences. It is suggested that user settings could be transferred between vehicles.
The firms also envisage developing communications tools that allow in-car users to stay in touch with people, send expected arrival times and make payments for the likes of road tolls and parking. Similar functions would see work tools brought into the car to make the daily commute more productive.
Other proposed developments will see users able to monitor and control aspects of their vehicle remotely via a computer or mobile device. An example would see users able to transfer vehicle access to a friend or relative without having to give them the physical key, but by sending them a digital key. Remote tracking of a vehicle's location, meanwhile, will be used to develop security functions.
While many of these functions are already in use in some vehicles, the partnership will cater for further sophistication and, indeed, allow for the creation of new services and tools that have yet to be conceived. The firms expect to do this in part by developing ways to monitor usage data, which can then inform the development of features. The means for facilitating over-the-air downloads to keep vehicle software up-to-date will also be an area of focus.
The partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Microsoft has a multi-year remit and a global focus.