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Showcasing new business opportunities with the Microsoft Automotive Accelerator

Starting next week at IAA – New Mobility World, Microsoft will join 1000+ exhibitors and 250,000 visitors from approximately 39 countries to exhibit and explore immersive technologies, visionary concepts like electromobility, and many industry disruptors in Frankfurt. This year at IAA – New Mobility World asks the questions: “How are society, business, indeed our whole way of life changing and how does this affect our mobility? What can new technologies offer us?”

Shaping the transformation of the automotive industry

Today, Microsoft partners with automotive companies to revolutionize mobility with digital technology—building differentiated experiences, accelerating automotive innovation, monetizing data and services, and redefining transportation for a cleaner, safer world. Learn more about Microsoft’s perspective on navigating the future of autonomous vehicles.

With Microsoft Business Applications, our automotive partners, suppliers, and retailers can develop new customer insights and create omnichannel customer experiences with the Microsoft Automotive Accelerator.

Creating omnichannel customer experiences

Microsoft Industry Accelerators are a packaged and prepopulated common data model (CDM) using industry standards, built on Microsoft 365, Azure, and Dynamics 365. Industry accelerators enable customers and ISVs to build industry solutions on Microsoft technology by enabling specific industry business processes or scenarios for partners to develop industry solutions.

The Microsoft Automotive Accelerator allows users to schedule appointments and automotive services, facilitated through proactive communications. Microsoft partners gain access to a wide range of industry-standard entities and data relationships, allowing for rapid development of new automotive solutions. Working with our partners and industry leaders, the accelerator was developed to help auto makers, dealerships, and service providers quickly add more value for their customers.

For auto makers, the accelerator offers a vehicle and equipment management focus which allows device details and specifications within our data model to allow for the management and tracking of vehicles and devices. For dealerships and service providers, the accelerator includes a service and post-sales focus helping create connected customer experiences with a holistic view of customers, from service appointments to contracts and warranties.

Building new solutions with partners

This year at IAA – New Mobility World, Annata will showcase how their Annata 365 solutions, built on Microsoft technology with the Automotive Accelerator, help automotive and equipment businesses meet business challenges while taking advantages of new opportunities in the market.

The new Annata 365 for Sales solution adds industry-specific functionality to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, and is targeted specifically at driving a customer-centric approach to marketing and sales processes within the ever-evolving automotive industry. Annata 365 and the Microsoft Power Platform provide built-in analytics and intelligence, task-based apps, and omnichannel capabilities to drive digital transformation and innovation in any automotive organization.

We will also highlight our partnership with Adobe at IAA. Adobe and Microsoft’s strategic partnership and integrations allow an end-to-end customer experience management solution for experience creation, marketing, advertising, analytics, and commerce. This allows companies to deliver consistent and compelling experiences at each touch point with a customer, accelerating business growth throughout the customer journey.

Get the full story at IAA

These are just a few of the ways we’re partnering with organizations like Annata and Adobe to transform the automotive industry with Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. If you are attending IAA, visit our booth at the Frankfurt Exhibition Hall 5, Stand C21, to experience our full suite of technologies and chat with customers and partners.

For more information about our location and sessions at this event, please see our event site.

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Microsoft’s Connected Vehicle Platform Presence at IAA, the Frankfurt Auto Show

This post was co-authored by the extended Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) team. 

A connected vehicle solution must enable a fleet of potentially millions of vehicles, distributed around the world, to deliver intuitive experiences including infotainment, entertainment, productivity, driver safety, driver assistance. In addition to these services in the vehicle, a connected vehicle solution is critical for fleet solutions like ride and car sharing as well as phone apps that incorporate the context of the user and the journey.

Imagine you are driving to your vacation destination and you start your conference call from home while you are packing. When you transition to the shared vehicle, the route planning takes into account the best route for connectivity and easy driving and adjusts the microphone sensitivity during the call in the back seat. These experiences today are constrained to either the center-stack screen, known as the in-vehicle infotainment device (IVI), or other specific hardware and software that is determined when the car is being built. Instead, these experiences should evolve over the lifetime of ridership. The opportunity is for new, modern experiences in vehicles that span the entire interior and systems of a vehicle, plus experiences outside the vehicle, to create deeper and longer-lasting relationships between car makers and their customers throughout the transportation journey.

To realize this opportunity, car manufacturers and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) providers need a connected vehicle platform to complete the digital feedback loop by incorporating the seamless deployment of new functionality that is composed from multiple independently updatable services that reflect new understanding, at scale, and with dependable and consistent management of data and these services from Azure to and from three different edges: the vehicle, the phone, and the many enterprise applications that support the journey.

The Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) is the digital chassis upon which automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can deliver value-add services to their customers. These services areas include:

  • In-vehicle experiences
  • Autonomous driving
  • Advanced navigation
  • Customer engagement and insights
  • Telematics and prediction services
  • Connectivity and over the air updates (OTA)

MCVP is a platform composed from about 40 different Azure services and tailored for automotive scenarios. To ensure continuous over-the-air (OTA) updates of new functionality, MCVP also includes different Azure edge technologies such as Automotive IoT Edge that runs in the vehicle, and Azure Maps for intelligent location services.

With MCVP, and an ecosystem of partners across the industry, Microsoft offers a consistent platform across all digital services. This includes vehicle provisioning, two-way network connectivity, continuous over-the-air updates of containerized functionality, support for command-and-control, hot, warm, or cold path for telematics, and extension hooks for customer or third-party differentiation. Being built on Azure, MCVP includes the hyperscale, global availability, and regulatory compliance that comes as part of the Azure cloud. OEMs and fleet operators leverage MCVP as a way to “move up the stack” and focus on their customers rather than spend resources on non-differentiating infrastructure.

Automotive OEMs already taking advantage of MCVP, along with many of our ecosystem partners, including the Volkswagen Group, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and Iconiq.

In this blog post, we are delighted to recap many of the MCVP ecosystem partners that accelerate our common customers’ ability to develop and deploy completed connected vehicle solutions.

An image showing the aspects of the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform.

Focus areas and supporting partnerships

Microsoft’s ecosystem of partners include independent software vendors (ISVs), automotive suppliers, and systems integrators (SIs) to complete the overall value proposition of MCVP. We have pursued partnerships in these areas:

In-vehicle experiences

Cheaply available screens, increasingly autonomous vehicles, the emergence of pervasive voice assistants, and users’ increased expectation of the connectedness of their things have all combined to create an opportunity for OEMs to differentiate through the digital experiences they offer to the occupants, both the driver and the passengers, of their vehicles.

LG Electronics’ webOS Autoplatform offers an in-vehicle, container-capable OS that brings the third party application ecosystem created for premium TVs to In-vehicle experiences. webOSAuto supports the container-based runtime environment of MCVP and can be an important part of modern experiences in the vehicle.

Faurecia leverages MCVP to create disruptive, connected, and personalized services inside the Cockpit of the Future to reinvent the on-board experience for all occupants.

Autonomous driving

The continuous development of autonomous driving systems requires input from both test fleets and production vehicles that are integrated by a common connected vehicle platform. This is because the underlying machine learning (ML) models that either drive the car or provide assistance to the driver will be updated over time as they are improved based on feedback across those fleets, and those updates will be deployed over the air in incremental rings of deployment by way of their connection to the cloud.

Teraki creates and deploys containerized functionality to vehicles to efficiently extract and manage selected sensor data such as telemetry, video, and 3D information. Teraki’s product continuously trains and updates the sensor data to extract relevant, condensed information that enables customers’ models to achieve highest accuracy rates, both in the vehicle (edge) as well in Azure (cloud.)

TomTom is integrating their navigation intelligence services such as HD Maps and Traffic as containerized services for use in MCVP so that other services in the vehicles, including autonomous driving, can take advantage of the additional location context.

Advanced navigation

TomTom’s navigation application has been integrated with the MCVP in-vehicle compute architecture to enable navigation usage and diagnostics data to be sent from vehicles to the Azure cloud where the data can be used by automakers to generate data-driven insights to deliver tailored services, and to make better informed design and engineering decisions. The benefit of this integration includes the immediate insights created from comparing the intended route with the actual route with road metadata. If you are attending IAA, be sure to check out the demo at the Microsoft booth.

Telenav is a leading provider of connected car and location-based services and is working with Microsoft to integrate its intelligent connected-car solution suite, including infotainment, in-car commerce, and navigation, with MCVP.

Customer engagement and insights

Otonomo securely ingests automotive data from OEMs, fleet operators, etc., then reshapes and enriches the data so application and service providers can use it to develop a host of new and innovative offerings that deliver value to drivers. The data services platform has built it privacy by design solutions for both personal and aggregate use cases. Through the collaboration with Microsoft, car manufacturers adopting the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform can easily plug their connected car data into Otonomo’s existing ecosystem to quickly roll out new connected car services to drivers.

Telematics and prediction services

DSA is a leading software and solutions provider for quality assurance, diagnostics, and maintenance of the entire vehicle electrics and electronics in the automotive industry. Together, DSA and Microsoft target to close the digital feedback loops between automotive production facilities and field cars by providing an advanced Vehicle Lifecycle Management, based on the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform.

WirelessCar is a leading managed service provider within the connected vehicle eco-system and empowers car makers to provide mobility services with Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform that supports and accelerates their customers’ high market ambitions in a world of rapid changing business models.

Connectivity and OTA

Cubic Telecom is a leading connectivity management software provider to the automotive and IoT industries globally. They are one of the first partners to bring seamless connectivity as a core service offering to MCVP for a global market. The deep integration with MCVP allows for a single data lake and an integrated services monitoring path. In addition, Cubic Telecom provides connected car capabilities that let drivers use infotainment apps in real-time, connect their devices to the Wi-Fi hotspot, and top-up on data plans to access high-speed LTE connectivity, optionally on a separate APN.

Excelfore is an innovator in automotive over-the-air (OTA) updating and data aggregation technologies. They provide a full implementation of the eSync bi-directional data pipeline, which has been ported to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and integrated as the first solution for MCVP OTA updating.

Tata Communications is a leading global digital infrastructure provider. We are working with them to help speed the development of new innovative connected car applications. By combining the IoT connectivity capabilities of Tata Communications MOVE™ with MCVP, the two companies will enable automotive manufacturers to offer consumers worldwide more seamless and secure driving experiences.

Microsoft is incredibly excited to be a part of the connected vehicle space. With the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, our ecosystem partners, and our partnerships with leading automotive players – both vehicle OEMs and automotive technology suppliers – we believe we have a uniquely capable offering enabling at global scale the next wave of innovation in the automotive industry as well as related verticals such as smart cities, smart infrastructure, insurance, transportation, and beyond.

Explore the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform today and visit us at IAA.

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Microsoft’s connected car platform delivers a mobile datacenter to your driveway

Mark Mobleywritten by

Mark Mobley

Microsoft’s connected car platform delivers a mobile datacenter to your driveway

The connected car revolution isn’t coming — it’s here. Going to a meeting, and have a conference call on the way? Your ride’s digital assistant will help you plan a route blessedly free of tunnels and drops in connectivity that could interfere. And while you drive, the car will help you stay in your lane.

Dr. Herbert Diess, Volkswagen AG chairman, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Tara Prakriya, and Christian Senger, Volkswagen board member & head of digital car & services, at the Volkswagen AG Digital Lab in Berlin.

Leading this effort on the engineering front at Microsoft is Tara Prakriya, General Manager for Azure IoT Mobility and Connected Vehicles. This team of dozens is working with the two largest industry players, Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, to create cars featuring unprecedented levels of interactivity.

“What our connected vehicle platform gives our clients is truly a digital chassis to achieve scale and efficiency in developing and delivering value to their customers,” Prakriya said. “Our customers are navigating a digital transformation of the industry and this digital chassis helps them absorb and fully take advantage of the new opportunities available in the market in a global way, including China.”

“What our customers look for in the partnership from Microsoft is not just a technology vendor, but a strategic partnership to help the full digital transformation, cultural transformation and market transformation that need to work in lock step. It’s a tall order, which is why we work with our customers to figure out what this is going to look like.”

Our connected vehicle platform gives our clients a digital chassis to achieve scale and efficiency in developing and delivering value to their customers.

“Pretty much everybody that’s on the team is really excited about this space,” said Larry Sullivan, co-head of the team with Prakriya and a veteran Microsoft engineer. “I think Tara brings a lot of that energy and the team gives that energy back as well. We’re not a huge team, but we’re really motivated, and we’re really fired up about helping our customers do business in a really positive way.”

Microsoft’s automotive initiatives engage such corporate partners as TomTom, Cubic Telecom, Moovit, DSA and Faurecia. They also leverage Microsoft’s work on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the company’s Azure cloud computing service. Prakriya believes it’s helpful to think of IoT as the information of things.

Tara Prakriya and Larry Sullivan consider themselves “two in a box” as collaborators on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

Tara Prakriya and Larry Sullivan consider themselves “two in a box” as collaborators on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

“The digital feedback loop is the term that we use at Microsoft,” Prakriya said. “IoT in many ways represents the digital feedback loop of physical things, physical spaces, physical environment and what products actually do in the marketplace. There are lots of decisions that our business customers need to make that IoT information can make a significant contribution to.

“And, once those decisions are made, there is new information, and that needs to be communicated as a feedback loop back to those physical environments, physical products, physical consumers and physical employees. The opportunity in connected vehicles, and mobility as a whole, is to be on the edge of getting the data so that we can do amazing things and then deliver it back to the edge again. What then connects the stationary things, like smart buildings, with smart transportation and mobility is Azure Maps.”

A car, Prakriya said, has plenty in common with other consumer electronics products: “You want experiences to become easy. You want the cars and the system to anticipate what your needs are. There is a lot of ease of use and delight that can be had for the consumers — both the drivers and the passengers. The cool challenge with delivering a connected vehicle platform is simplifying the complexities of what is really a mobile datacenter on wheels so that these experiences are easier to create, deploy and refine. Having a single connected vehicle and maps platform that underpins consumer experiences in the vehicle and on their phones, providing driving assistance and mobility as a service, goes a long way towards this goal.”

Connected car illustration.

Microsoft’s work in the automotive space is about helping each customer create a differentiated set of integrated services while taking advantage of a consistent, robust, flexible, global and secure digital chassis for scale. “They have different brand promises to their consumers,” Prakriya said, “and so as a result, the features that they are really thinking about and the digital value that they are trying to deliver to their customers are different. We are taking care of the boring stuff so that they can really think about what their brand promise is and deliver it.”

She points out that automakers are making these promises and creating these systems in the face of not one, not two, but four simultaneous upheavals in the industry. The first is basic digital connectivity, followed closely by the use of artificial intelligence — for example, in fighting driver distraction, among other applications. Then there are shared-vehicle services, and the gradual electrification of cars and trucks as manufacturers move away from fossil fuels, which will have impacts across the supply chain and all through the vehicle life cycle.

“It is an enormous amount of change that we know our customers are thinking about constantly,” Prakriya said, “so this is a lot of the reason why we created the set of platforms for IoT Mobility. We are very engaged with our customers because it’s so exciting to watch them navigate this. And if we can play any part in that navigation, it’s pretty wonderful.”

The challenge with delivering a connected vehicle platform is simplifying the complexities of what is really a mobile datacenter on wheels so that these experiences are easier to create, deploy and refine.

To further complicate matters, all of the team’s major customers are also working on driverless vehicles. “Azure’s storage and compute teams, along with the AI teams, and the devops teams, together have an excellent story for building your own autonomous driving models,” she said. “Azure has a pretty great end-to-end template and methodology that helps customers, from getting their big data onto Azure all the way through to working with ecosystem partners to be on Azure for things like simulation as well as collecting data from production vehicles to assist in validation.

“We work with a number of large customers on building their own autonomous driving models on Azure. Fully autonomous vehicles are, of course, more than just a technical problem. There are legal and regulatory considerations. In the meantime, assisted driving models are rapidly improving, and we are excited to work with our customers to deploy these models to vehicles using our connected vehicle platform and create a digital feedback loop.”

Larry Sullivan is an engineering manager who works on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

Larry Sullivan is an engineering manager who works on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

“Today, this data informs cutting-edge driver-assisted features like automatic braking, advanced cruise control and lane assist. Tomorrow, the information will be the backbone of autonomy. The leader in that space, bar none, is Microsoft,” wrote analyst Jon Markman in a recent Forbes article.

There is also an increasing focus on Azure Maps to keep up with the demands of multi-modal routing, HD Maps and fresh updates that connect ride share partners with map making partners. In addition, Azure Maps is an important pillar in geo-spatial analytics to help create new value for customers.

Prakriya “really understands the tech and the business and how those things come together,” co-head of the team, Sullivan said. “She is fantastic as a counterpart.”

Both Prakriya and Sullivan say they consider themselves “two in a box” as managers — even though he’s Texan and she’s not, he’s kind of a car guy and she drives a non-connected minivan that’s the same age as her 14-year-old son. They’re both fast talkers who laugh easily.

“We have a great time,” Sullivan said. “We have a lot of fun. This is an exciting industry. It’s really going through a bunch of changes and we feel well positioned to help, but like anything, it’s got a degree of insanity, and we have a lot of fun with just, ‘All right, what’s the craziness of the day?'”

Yet Prakriya’s scientific approach — she holds nine patents — persists even after she leaves the office. It extends to life with her son and husband, who works in the Microsoft Business and Applications Group.

“I am a crock pot maven,” she said. “There is almost nothing I cannot cook in a crock pot. It is the only way our family survives. A lot of Indian cooking works really well in the crock pot, baking as well — it is amazingly easy to bake in a crock pot.

Microsoft’s work in the automotive space is about helping each corporate customer create a differentiated set of services.

Prakriya and Sullivan walk along a woodsy trail on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Prakriya and Sullivan walk along a woodsy trail on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington campus.

“I joke that my aim is to bend the space-time continuum of figuring out how we eat as a family, and with the slow cooker, we have the option of stretching out the interval between when I cook and when the meal needs to be ready. I also like the whole end-to-end supply chain of food. It’s also about optimizing the shopping list, strategic use of the freezer, and considering the whole process all the way down to the dishes. It’s kind of fun.”

Both at home and at work, she pursues a hobby: knitting. She’s a contributor to Knit-A-Square, a South African charity that collects knitted squares and assembles them into blankets for vulnerable and orphaned children, many of whom are affected by HIV/AIDS. She said that knitting is the perfect accompaniment to a conference call.

“We do a lot of them because our customers are in Europe,” she said, “and they are kind of all in different places, right? Knitting keeps me away from the keyboard because it’s easy to get distracted. It is a way to keep my fingers active so I can focus.”

And for Prakriya, Sullivan and the team, focus is key — because there’s always another question to answer from another angle.

“Just connecting things does not solve the big challenges,” Prakriya said. “There is definitely a lot of work to do. We are trying to provide the platforms to make that work easier. We have great support from our management chain. We are aligned all the way up and down with our wickedly smart compatriots in business development — shout out to [Executive Vice President of Business Development] Peggy Johnson’s team — as well as marketing, teams in the field, as well as PR. And our close relationship with our partners and customers makes the work exciting and fun.

“What Larry and I and the extended IoT Mobility team are doing is a shining example of everything about the fantastic Microsoft culture at work. It’s about solving the right problems the right way, in an aligned manner, so that the best people who understand the problem from different dimensions can come together and achieve something really great, and help our customers achieve something that is frankly even greater.”

Originally published on 9/12/2019 / Photos by Brian Smale / © Microsoft

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Announcing Microsoft for Startups: Autonomous Driving Program

Today, at the Frankfurt Motorshow (IAA) we announced Microsoft for Startups: Autonomous Driving (MfS – AD), an exclusive program which aims to accelerate the growth of startups working on autonomous driving (AD).

Increasingly startups have been playing a crucial role in bringing autonomous driving technology to the world. From building full-stack autonomy solutions for OEMs to opening up new business opportunities in areas like delivery, ride-sharing and long haul transit, startups have been at the forefront of technological advancement in this space. Startups also play a critical role in delivering important AD enablement technologies and solutions like simulation, data management, labeling and more.

image

Cultivating a state-of-the-art, global partner ecosystem has been a focal point of our autonomous driving strategy and our startup partners have played an important part in helping our customers deliver the promise of autonomous driving at scale. For instance, Cognata is using their simulation technology to help customers like Audi AG speed up their AV development. We announced partnerships with Ascent Robotics, a Tokyo-based startup making innovative use of reinforcement learning and neuroscience to deliver complex L4 driving scenarios and Linker Networks, a startup based in Taiwan taking annotation efficiency and reliability to a whole new level through their AI-based auto-labeling technology helping the industry build smarter, safer vehicles. We are also closely working with startups like Udelv, who are paving the path for autonomous driving to meet the growing demands of the retail delivery space. This week at IAA, Applied Intuition announced the release of their Applied Development Platform optimized on Microsoft Azure. 

The MfS-AD program is another example of our continuing commitment to the AD startup community. We want to empower pioneering startups who are defining what is next in autonomous driving by helping them scale up and scale out through business and technical enablement. As part of the program, all selected startups will receive the premium offer from our Microsoft for Startups program including access to up to $120,000 USD of free Azure cloud.

For technical enablement, startups will receive benefits like:

  • Access to our top engineers and program managers working on autonomous driving infrastructure technology and solutions.
  • 1:1 architectural sessions with Microsoft Cloud Engineers.
  • Early access to autonomous driving capabilities on Azure.
  • Potential co-development opportunities.

For business enablement, startups will receive benefits like:

  • Opportunities to expand your network by becoming a part of Microsoft’s autonomous driving ecosystem. Many of our partners have found their next big customer or partner at one of our automotive networking receptions and other events.
  • Joint customer opportunities.
  • Marketing and amplification support.
  • Preferred showcase opportunities at industry events and conferences.
  • Visibility to M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) for potential investment opportunities.

For details on how to apply, nomination requirements, selection criteria and more, visit https://aka.ms/ADstartup

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Meet Tara Prakriya, leader in engineering Microsoft’s connected car platform

Mark Mobleywritten by

Mark Mobley

Microsoft’s connected car platform delivers a mobile datacenter to your driveway

The connected car revolution isn’t coming — it’s here. Going to a meeting, and have a conference call on the way? Your ride’s digital assistant will help you plan a route blessedly free of tunnels and drops in connectivity that could interfere. And while you drive, the car will help you stay in your lane.

Dr. Herbert Diess, Volkswagen AG chairman, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Tara Prakriya, and Christian Senger, Volkswagen board member & head of digital car & services, at the Volkswagen AG Digital Lab in Berlin.

Leading this effort on the engineering front at Microsoft is Tara Prakriya, General Manager for Azure IoT Mobility and Connected Vehicles. This team of dozens is working with the two largest industry players, Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, to create cars featuring unprecedented levels of interactivity.

“What our connected vehicle platform gives our clients is truly a digital chassis to achieve scale and efficiency in developing and delivering value to their customers,” Prakriya said. “Our customers are navigating a digital transformation of the industry and this digital chassis helps them absorb and fully take advantage of the new opportunities available in the market in a global way, including China.”

“What our customers look for in the partnership from Microsoft is not just a technology vendor, but a strategic partnership to help the full digital transformation, cultural transformation and market transformation that need to work in lock step. It’s a tall order, which is why we work with our customers to figure out what this is going to look like.”

Our connected vehicle platform gives our clients a digital chassis to achieve scale and efficiency in developing and delivering value to their customers.

“Pretty much everybody that’s on the team is really excited about this space,” said Larry Sullivan, co-head of the team with Prakriya and a veteran Microsoft engineer. “I think Tara brings a lot of that energy and the team gives that energy back as well. We’re not a huge team, but we’re really motivated, and we’re really fired up about helping our customers do business in a really positive way.”

Microsoft’s automotive initiatives engage such corporate partners as TomTom, Cubic Telecom, Moovit, DSA and Faurecia. They also leverage Microsoft’s work on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the company’s Azure cloud computing service. Prakriya believes it’s helpful to think of IoT as the information of things.

Tara Prakriya and Larry Sullivan consider themselves “two in a box” as collaborators on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

Tara Prakriya and Larry Sullivan consider themselves “two in a box” as collaborators on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

“The digital feedback loop is the term that we use at Microsoft,” Prakriya said. “IoT in many ways represents the digital feedback loop of physical things, physical spaces, physical environment and what products actually do in the marketplace. There are lots of decisions that our business customers need to make that IoT information can make a significant contribution to.

“And, once those decisions are made, there is new information, and that needs to be communicated as a feedback loop back to those physical environments, physical products, physical consumers and physical employees. The opportunity in connected vehicles, and mobility as a whole, is to be on the edge of getting the data so that we can do amazing things and then deliver it back to the edge again. What then connects the stationary things, like smart buildings, with smart transportation and mobility is Azure Maps.”

A car, Prakriya said, has plenty in common with other consumer electronics products: “You want experiences to become easy. You want the cars and the system to anticipate what your needs are. There is a lot of ease of use and delight that can be had for the consumers — both the drivers and the passengers. The cool challenge with delivering a connected vehicle platform is simplifying the complexities of what is really a mobile datacenter on wheels so that these experiences are easier to create, deploy and refine. Having a single connected vehicle and maps platform that underpins consumer experiences in the vehicle and on their phones, providing driving assistance and mobility as a service, goes a long way towards this goal.”

Connected car illustration.

Microsoft’s work in the automotive space is about helping each customer create a differentiated set of integrated services while taking advantage of a consistent, robust, flexible, global and secure digital chassis for scale. “They have different brand promises to their consumers,” Prakriya said, “and so as a result, the features that they are really thinking about and the digital value that they are trying to deliver to their customers are different. We are taking care of the boring stuff so that they can really think about what their brand promise is and deliver it.”

She points out that automakers are making these promises and creating these systems in the face of not one, not two, but four simultaneous upheavals in the industry. The first is basic digital connectivity, followed closely by the use of artificial intelligence — for example, in fighting driver distraction, among other applications. Then there are shared-vehicle services, and the gradual electrification of cars and trucks as manufacturers move away from fossil fuels, which will have impacts across the supply chain and all through the vehicle life cycle.

“It is an enormous amount of change that we know our customers are thinking about constantly,” Prakriya said, “so this is a lot of the reason why we created the set of platforms for IoT Mobility. We are very engaged with our customers because it’s so exciting to watch them navigate this. And if we can play any part in that navigation, it’s pretty wonderful.”

The challenge with delivering a connected vehicle platform is simplifying the complexities of what is really a mobile datacenter on wheels so that these experiences are easier to create, deploy and refine.

To further complicate matters, all of the team’s major customers are also working on driverless vehicles. “Azure’s storage and compute teams, along with the AI teams, and the devops teams, together have an excellent story for building your own autonomous driving models,” she said. “Azure has a pretty great end-to-end template and methodology that helps customers, from getting their big data onto Azure all the way through to working with ecosystem partners to be on Azure for things like simulation as well as collecting data from production vehicles to assist in validation.

“We work with a number of large customers on building their own autonomous driving models on Azure. Fully autonomous vehicles are, of course, more than just a technical problem. There are legal and regulatory considerations. In the meantime, assisted driving models are rapidly improving, and we are excited to work with our customers to deploy these models to vehicles using our connected vehicle platform and create a digital feedback loop.”

Larry Sullivan is an engineering manager who works on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

Larry Sullivan is an engineering manager who works on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

“Today, this data informs cutting-edge driver-assisted features like automatic braking, advanced cruise control and lane assist. Tomorrow, the information will be the backbone of autonomy. The leader in that space, bar none, is Microsoft,” wrote analyst Jon Markman in a recent Forbes article.

There is also an increasing focus on Azure Maps to keep up with the demands of multi-modal routing, HD Maps and fresh updates that connect ride share partners with map making partners. In addition, Azure Maps is an important pillar in geo-spatial analytics to help create new value for customers.

Prakriya “really understands the tech and the business and how those things come together,” co-head of the team, Sullivan said. “She is fantastic as a counterpart.”

Both Prakriya and Sullivan say they consider themselves “two in a box” as managers — even though he’s Texan and she’s not, he’s kind of a car guy and she drives a non-connected minivan that’s the same age as her 14-year-old son. They’re both fast talkers who laugh easily.

“We have a great time,” Sullivan said. “We have a lot of fun. This is an exciting industry. It’s really going through a bunch of changes and we feel well positioned to help, but like anything, it’s got a degree of insanity, and we have a lot of fun with just, ‘All right, what’s the craziness of the day?'”

Yet Prakriya’s scientific approach — she holds nine patents — persists even after she leaves the office. It extends to life with her son and husband, who works in the Microsoft Business and Applications Group.

“I am a crock pot maven,” she said. “There is almost nothing I cannot cook in a crock pot. It is the only way our family survives. A lot of Indian cooking works really well in the crock pot, baking as well — it is amazingly easy to bake in a crock pot.

Microsoft’s work in the automotive space is about helping each corporate customer create a differentiated set of services.

Prakriya and Sullivan walk along a woodsy trail on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Prakriya and Sullivan walk along a woodsy trail on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington campus.

“I joke that my aim is to bend the space-time continuum of figuring out how we eat as a family, and with the slow cooker, we have the option of stretching out the interval between when I cook and when the meal needs to be ready. I also like the whole end-to-end supply chain of food. It’s also about optimizing the shopping list, strategic use of the freezer, and considering the whole process all the way down to the dishes. It’s kind of fun.”

Both at home and at work, she pursues a hobby: knitting. She’s a contributor to Knit-A-Square, a South African charity that collects knitted squares and assembles them into blankets for vulnerable and orphaned children, many of whom are affected by HIV/AIDS. She said that knitting is the perfect accompaniment to a conference call.

“We do a lot of them because our customers are in Europe,” she said, “and they are kind of all in different places, right? Knitting keeps me away from the keyboard because it’s easy to get distracted. It is a way to keep my fingers active so I can focus.”

And for Prakriya, Sullivan and the team, focus is key — because there’s always another question to answer from another angle.

“Just connecting things does not solve the big challenges,” Prakriya said. “There is definitely a lot of work to do. We are trying to provide the platforms to make that work easier. We have great support from our management chain. We are aligned all the way up and down with our wickedly smart compatriots in business development — shout out to [Executive Vice President of Business Development] Peggy Johnson’s team — as well as marketing, teams in the field, as well as PR. And our close relationship with our partners and customers makes the work exciting and fun.

“What Larry and I and the extended IoT Mobility team are doing is a shining example of everything about the fantastic Microsoft culture at work. It’s about solving the right problems the right way, in an aligned manner, so that the best people who understand the problem from different dimensions can come together and achieve something really great, and help our customers achieve something that is frankly even greater.”

Originally published on 9/12/2019 / Photos by Brian Smale / © Microsoft

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Microsoft expands its automotive partner ecosystem to power the future of mobility

Technology can help automotive companies transform into smart mobility services providers

Dashboard of self-driving auto

Karl Benz and Henry Ford revolutionized transportation with the initial development and mass production of the automobile. Now, more than a century later, the automotive industry is poised to transform transportation again, with a push to develop connected, personalized and autonomous driving experiences, electric vehicles and new mobility business models from ride-sharing to ride-hailing and multimodal, smart transportation concepts.

This industry is expected to see significant growth, becoming a $6.6T industry by 2030, with disruptive business models accounting for 25 percent of all revenues, according to consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. From shared vehicle services to fully electric transportation, manufacturers are developing new products and services to enable large fleets offering mobility-as-a-service, which will increasingly replace individual car ownership. This involves modernizing the in-vehicle experience with productivity, entertainment, and personal assistants that are safe and secure, following users across different transport modes, adding value for businesses and consumers alike.

This transformation requires a data-driven mindset. The automotive sector generates vast amounts of data. However, companies aren’t yet fully set up to turn it into relevant insights. Future success depends on the ability to identify and capture digital signals and evolve how the business approaches innovation. Through what we call a digital feedback loop, the entirety of the enterprise can be connected with relevant data— whether it is pertaining to relationship management with customers and partners, or engagement with employees, core product creation or enterprise operations— to drive continuous improvement in products and services, mobility companies must differentiate from their competition.

We support the industry with unlocking this enormous potential by providing intelligent cloud, edge, IoT and AI services and helping automotive companies build and extend their own digital capabilities.

To that end, this year, for the first time, Microsoft is joining Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) and showcasing our approach to working with the automotive industry. We want to empower automotive organizations of all sizes to transform into smart mobility services providers.

Our automotive strategy is shaped by three key principles:

  1. We partner across the industry. We are not in the business of making vehicles or delivering end mobility as a service offerings.
  2. We believe data should be owned by our customers, as insights from data will become the new drivers of revenue for the auto industry. We do not monetize our customers‘ data
  3. We support automotive companies as they enhance and extend their unique brand experiences to expand their relationships with their customers.

We are focusing our customer engagements along with our extensive global partner network to support their success in the five following areas: connected vehicle solutions, autonomous driving development, smart mobility solutions, connected marketing, sales and service as well as intelligent manufacturing and supply chain.

Today, we are sharing updates about our approach and expansions to our partner ecosystem across these focus areas:

  1. Empower connected vehicle solutions

The core of our connected vehicle efforts is the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP). It combines advanced cloud and edge computing services with a strong partner network so automotive companies can build connected driving solutions that span from in-vehicle experiences and autonomous driving to prediction services and connectivity. In addition to our partnerships with Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, new partners are using MCVP to do more:

  • LG Electronics’ webOS Autoplatform offers an in-vehicle, container-capable OS that brings the third party application ecosystem created for premium TVs to in-vehicle experiences. webOSAuto supports the container-based runtime environment of MCVP and can be an important part of modern experiences in the vehicle.
  • Faurecia is leveraging MCVP to create disruptive, connected and personalized services inside the Cockpit of the Future to reinvent the on-board experience for all occupants.
  • Cubic Telecom is a leading connectivity management software provider to the automotive and IoT industries globally. They are one of the first partners to bring seamless connectivity as a core service offering to MCVP for a global market. The deep integration with MCVP allows for a single data lake and an integrated services monitoring path.

Meet more partners in our MCVP blog.

Our customers are also looking to provide conversational assistants tailored to their brand and customer needs, and make them available across multiple devices and apps. The Microsoft Azure Virtual Assistant Solution Accelerator simplifies the creation of these assistants.

  1. Accelerate autonomous driving function development

We empower car makers, suppliers and mobility services providers to accelerate their delivery of autonomous driving solutions that provide safe, comfortable and personalized driving experiences with a comprehensive set of cloud, edge, IoT and AI services and a partner-led open ecosystem that enables collaborative development across companies. We support companies of all sizes from large enterprises such as Audi, that are leveraging Microsoft Azure to create simulations using these large volumes of data, to small and medium sized businesses and start-ups.

Today, we are announcing Microsoft for Startups: Autonomous Driving, a program to accelerate the growth of start-ups working on autonomous driving and help them seize new business opportunities in areas such as delivery, ride-sharing and long haul transit. Learn more about our collaboration with start-ups like Linker Networks and Udelv in our start-up blog.

This year in the Microsoft booth at IAA, Bosch, FEV, Intempora and Applied Intuition are showcasing their autonomous driving solutions.

  • FEV is overcoming the central challenge to validating automated driving functions with a data management and assessment system developed in house, which uses Microsoft Azure.
  • Intempora has recently unveiled IVS, the Intempora Validation Suite, a new software toolchain for the test, training, benchmarking and the validation of ADAS (Advanced Driver and Assistance Systems) and HAD (Highly Automated Driving) algorithms.
  • Applied Intuition is equipping engineering and product development teams with software that makes it faster, safer, and easier to bring autonomy to market.
  1. Enable creation of smart mobility solutions

Intelligent mapping and navigation services are critical to building smart mobility solutions. This is why Microsoft is partnering with companies like TomTom and Moovit.

      • TomTom is integrating their navigation intelligence services such as HD Maps and Traffic as containerized services for use in MCVP so that other in-vehicle services, including autonomous driving, can take advantage of the additional location context.
      • TomTom and Moovit are also partnering with Microsoft for a comprehensive multi-modal trip planner leveraging Azure Maps.
      • The urban mobility app Moovit using Azure Maps also helps people with disabilities ride transit with confidence. This project supports Microsoft’s aim to make our latest technology accessible to everyone and foster inclusion and the use of our technology for the good so that every person on the planet can benefit from technological innovations.
    1. Empower connected marketing, sales and services solutions

    With Microsoft Business Applications, our automotive partners, suppliers, and retailers can develop new customer insights and create omnichannel customer experiences. With the Microsoft Automotive Accelerator, auto companies can schedule appointments and automotive services, facilitated through proactive communications.

    At IAA, we’re excited to have several partners onsite, including Annata, Adobe and Daimler:

    • Annata is leveraging our Automotive Accelerator to help automotive and equipment companies meet business challenges while taking advantages of new opportunities in the market.
    • Adobe and Microsoft’s strategic partnership and integrations allow an end-to-end customer experience management solution for experience creation, marketing, advertising, analytics, and commerce.
    • Daimler launched eXtollo, the company’s new cloud platform for big data and advanced analytics. The platform uses Azure Key Vault, a service that safeguards encryption keys and secrets, including certificates, connection strings and passwords.
    1. Provide services to build an intelligent supply chain

    Driving end-to-end digital transformation requires an integrated digital supply chain–from the factory and shop floor to end customer delivery. Microsoft works with Icertis, BMW, and others to build intelligent supply chain:

    • Icertis Contract Management natively runs on Microsoft Azure and seamlessly integrates with Office 365, Teams and Dynamics 365 so customers can extend the benefits from their Microsoft technology investments.
    • BMW and Microsoft continue to develop the Open Manufacturing Platform to enable industrial manufacturers to work together to break down data silos and overcome the challenges of complex, proprietary systems that slow down production optimization.

    We are looking forward to meeting you at our Microsoft booth (Hall 5, C21) or at one of our IAA sessions. On your way to Frankfurt explore our Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform microsite.

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ZF expands Partnership with Microsoft to Develop Digital Services

Whether in the passenger car sector or for commercial vehicles, ZF is well on the road toward Vision Zero. Autonomous vehicles, innovative safety systems and intelligent mobility solutions contribute to a future of road traffic with zero accidents and zero emissions. This will be accompanied by digitalizing the entire value chain. The technological backbone for these applications is the ZF Cloud based on Microsoft Azure. The closer collaboration with Microsoft allows ZF the development of even more customer focused and tailor-made solutions.

“The strategic partnership with Microsoft will allow us to work even more intensely on intelligent and networked mobility solutions of the future,” explains Mamatha Chamarthi, chief digital officer at ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “This puts us in the position of developing new digital services, on the one hand, and to adapt them perfectly to specific customer needs, on the other.”

Sanjay Ravi, General Manager, Automotive Industry, at Microsoft, adds: “We are excited to expand our collaboration with ZF. Microsoft Azure’s cloud, AI and IoT capabilities enable ZF to deliver highly secure mobility services at a global scale with a faster time to market and respond to the unique needs of their customers and partners worldwide.”

At the CES trade show, ZF will present their initial application options for the expanded platform. These options were developed with various partners and will encompass diverse areas of use:

Comprehensive fleet management

VDL, one of the leading manufacturer groups in the bus sector, uses the ZF IoT platform not only for its fleet management solution being sold to its customers, but also for its own fleet. The platform provides VDL a complete overview of the efficiency of its electric and diesel vehicles. By the end of 2018, more than 300 VDL electric buses had been equipped with the solution. In the process, VDL uses the entire bandwidth of Microsoft Azure services – from the Edge device to the cloud-based platform.

Smart transmissions through predictive maintenance

With the new Predictive Maintenance function, ZF is preparing its successful modular TraXon transmission for the digital future in the commercial vehicle industry. Starting in 2019, vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators can proactively plan vehicle maintenance using the cloud solution.

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LG partners with Microsoft to accelerate an automotive revolution

Signing of MoU between LG and Microsoft group image

Employing Microsoft Azure Technology to advance LG’s AI-driven vehicle strategy

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8, 2019 — LG Electronics (LG) and Microsoft entered into a memorandum of understanding to enhance and further grow LG’s autonomous vehicle and infotainment system business. Under the terms of the partnership, LG will accelerate the transformation of its existing digital platform for the vehicle industry, seen as key growth engines for the company, by leveraging Microsoft’s Azure cloud and artificial intelligence technologies along with LG’s future self-driving software.

LG will apply Microsoft’s AI knowhow to its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Driver-Status Monitoring Camera (DSM) and Multi-Purpose Front Camera products and incorporate Microsoft’s Virtual Assistant Solution Accelerator in LG’s infotainment systems. And with Azure Data Box service, data captured on the road can be uploaded automatically to create a library that helps the self-driving software grow even smarter.

In addition, LG plans to build innovative digital development and testing grounds employing state-of-the-art technology. High performance computing (HPC) and graphics processing unit (GPU) supported by Microsoft Azure will drastically reduce the time required for LG AI self-driving software to learn and evolve. Road and traffic patterns in cities that would normally require more than a full day for self-driving systems to comprehend would take only minutes with Azure.

And Azure can help AI self-driving software learn diverse patterns displayed by drivers as well as recognize and distinguish between pedestrians and other objects. By embedding AI self-driving software enhanced by Azure within the ADAS, performance of the DSM and Multi-Purpose Front Camera can be dramatically improved.

In addition to its ability to train AI self-driving software, Azure also has a voice-enabled Virtual Assistant Solution Accelerator with its AI services. With help from Azure, LG’s vehicle infotainment system will allow drivers to easily and quickly check traffic conditions on the road, search for nearby restaurants, call up favorite songs and more.

“Our expectation is that the combination of Microsoft’s advanced cloud infrastructure with LG’s fast-growing automotive components business will accelerate the self-driving auto industry as a whole,” said Kim Jin-yong, president of LG’s Vehicle Component Solutions Company. “We’re confident that the combination of Microsoft and LG technologies will create a new benchmark in autonomous auto AI.”

“Together LG and Microsoft can help shape the future of transportation,” said Sanjay Ravi, general manager, automotive industry at Microsoft. “Working together, we can empower automakers to deliver differentiated mobility experiences, create new services and revenue opportunities, and to build safer, more intelligent and more sustainable vehicles.”

Top image caption: Kim Jin-yong, President of LG’s Vehicle Component Solutions Company (center left), Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer (center right), and other executives celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the enhancement and growth LG’s autonomous vehicle and infotainment system businesses.

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Volkswagen and Microsoft share progress on strategic partnership

ID. is the first vehicle generation to be connected to the Automotive Cloud

Volkswagen is preparing its digital ecosystem for the core markets of the future ID. model family. The ID. will be the first vehicle to use the Automotive Cloud and is to be launched in Europe in 2020. Production is to start in China the same year and a member of the ID. family will roll off the production line in the USA from 2022 onwards.

First lighthouse projects for connected vehicle services

Volkswagen and Microsoft are also working on first lighthouse projects for connected vehicles. They are concentrating on communication and navigation solutions as well as personalized services: These will leverage self-learning algorithms facilitating the use of services in the vehicle and offering occupants extended functions. Automated linking into telephone conferences and the transfer of prepared navigation destinations will only be the first steps, which will also include the integration of Microsoft Skype and Microsoft Office.

Volkswagen Development Center in Seattle makes progress

Progress is also being made with the establishment of the new Development Center in Seattle. Volkswagen had established this location for the development of the Automotive Cloud at the end of 2018. The idea of the Development Center is to learn from Microsoft’s highly developed culture of agile collaboration and digital leadership and transferring this culture to the center’s own organization. At the center, first developer teams are now starting on project work. Microsoft is providing support for the development of the new center in areas including the recruitment of specialists and project management.

CEOs speak about importance of partnership in Berlin

The two CEOs of Volkswagen, Herbert Diess, and Microsoft, Satya Nadella, visited the Volkswagen Digital Lab in Berlin on Wednesday. They spoke to media representatives about the importance of their strategic partnership and the challenges faced in the digital transformation of the automotive and IT industries.

For Volkswagen, Berlin is an important software development location. Apart from the Digital Lab, other competence centers have their headquarters here. These also include Carmeq, a subsidiary of Volkswagen which is moving ahead with the development of software for the new vehicle operating system “vw.os”. About 650 specialists at three locations are concentrating on “vw.os” as well as the development of software for driver assistance, driving convenience and infotainment functions.

Note for editors:
A film of the joint visit of Herbert Diess and Satya Nadella to the Digital Lab as well as other images will become available in the Volkswagen Newsroom in the course of Wednesday.