Microsoft partners with GM self-driving subsidiary Cruise

By William Smith
The announcement came alongside a bumper new $2bn funding round with participation from Microsoft, sending Cruise’s valuation to $30bn...

Microsoft, General Motors (GM) and its self-driving subsidiary Cruise have announced a strategic partnership for the commercialisation of autonomous vehicles.

The move is just the latest in a series of forays by technology companies into the increasingly technology-led automotive industry, as with the likes of Google and its Alphabet stablemate Waymo.

Autonomous driving on the cloud

The partnership will see a pooling of software and hardware, in areas ranging from cloud computing to manufacturing capabilities. Cruise, for instance, is to use Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure to scale its autonomous solutions.

The announcement came alongside a bumper new $2bn funding round with participation from Microsoft, sending Cruise’s valuation to $30bn.

In a press release, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said: “Our mission to bring safer, better, and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race – it’s also a trust race.

“Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles.”

Cruise control

Although formed as a startup, Cruise was acquired by American automotive giant GM in 2016. GM is the majority owner, but Cruise’s backers include the likes of Honda and SoftBank of Japan.

The former invested an initial $750mn in 2018, with plans for a further $2bn over time, while the latter injected some $2.25bn in the same year. In total, the company’s funding rounds have raised some $7.3bn, reflecting the sheer volume of money being invested across the world to bring autonomous vehicles to the market.

Competition to achieve such a service is fierce, with big players including the likes of the Alphabet Inc-owned Waymo, Tesla and Chinese transportation company DiDi. The eventual goal is an autonomous vehicle at level 5 of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) Levels of Driving Automation Standard, representing complete autonomy at all times.

(Image: Cruise)

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