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Tata Motors Partners with Microsoft to Boost Cloud-based Vehicular Technology

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【Summary】Tata Motors, a Bangalore-based auto manufacturing powerhouse under the billion-dollar conglomerate Tata Group, is in a unique position to spearhead the development of self-driving cars in India.

Original Michael Cheng    Feb 22, 2017 11:40 AM PT
Tata Motors Partners with Microsoft to Boost Cloud-based Vehicular Technology

Tata Motors, a Bangalore-based auto manufacturing powerhouse under the billion-dollar conglomerate Tata Group, is in a unique position to spearhead the development of self-driving cars in India. Many international companies, including Google (before the Waymo spin-off) and Uber, in the driverless sector have expressed their concerns about testing autonomous technology in the country due to extreme road congestion and lack of city infrastructure.

These daunting hurdles are not holding back Tata Motors from developing, at the very least, ADAS or smart features for its fleet of vehicles. To streamline its cloud network, where such services are stored, executed and secured, the business announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft. The collaboration will allow the automaker to leverage the tech giant's connected technologies, such as advanced machine learning and IoT capabilities. These advancements underpin Microsoft's global hyper-scale Azure cloud and other smart car platforms.

Agile, Live Cloud System

In the collaboration, Microsoft is bringing foundational technologies that will support new smart car features for Tata Motors vehicles. It is important to consider that the duo is not working on an in-car operating or infotainment system (e.g., Android auto). The live cloud system that Microsoft is offering will be applied to the following services: predictive maintenance, in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and autonomous driving platforms. The first car to showcase new connected features will be unveiled at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show on March 7, 2017.

Microsoft first announced its entry in the smart car industry earlier this year at CES 2017, through the launching of the Connected Vehicle Platform. Businesses developing smart features, as well as autonomous driving systems, could use the connected platform to overcome software and deployment-related challenges. For example, the Azure cloud can be applied to crunch large amounts of incoming data from vehicular sensors and IoT components. Productivity tools, such as Cortana, Office 365 and Skype for Business will also be available for in-car integration.

"Using industry-leading firmware over the air (FOTA) and software over the air (SOTA) updates protocols, key vehicle settings can be updated remotely, over the cloud. These will help cloud based diagnostics and the ability to use insights from vehicle data to prevent warranty and recall issues, and offer new services that improve user experience," said Debeshi Gooptu from Telecom Asia.

C-Cube Concept

During Future Decoded 2017, an event organized by Microsoft India in Mumbai, Tata Motors unveiled an intriguing hatchback concept called C-Cube. The three-door vehicle's sleek design is an indicator of the automaker's level of maturity as a global car brand. The C-Cube features angular projector headlamps and LED daytime-running luminaries. Tata Motors failed to reveal the details of the unit's connected capabilities. However, individuals following the company's journey in developing smart cars will be able to get a closer look at their offerings during the Geneva Motor Show.

"We are using Microsoft's connected vehicle technologies on Azure intelligent cloud to bring the digital lives of our customers into the cars they drive," said Tata Motors CEO Guenter Butschek during a press conference.

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