Apple's longtime foe is jumping on board.
Automakers and major tech companies are fully aware self-driving cars are the next big thing, though there's still a long way to go to make them an everyday reality. And now GM's self-driving subsidiary, Cruise, has inked a deal with Microsoft that will see Bill Gates' baby invest $2 billion, raising Cruise's total value to $30 billion. Honda is already a major investor and partner in Cruise, and the first self-driving test vehicles will be sent to Japan later this year to begin testing.
GM, Cruise, and Microsoft's new long-term strategic relationship has one chief goal: to accelerate the commercialization of self-driving vehicles. The two companies will join forces in the fields of software and hardware development, engineering, cloud computing capabilities, and manufacturing.
"Our mission to bring safer, better and more affordable transportation to everyone isn't just a tech race - it's also a trust race," said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann. "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, which is currently testing highly modified versions of the Chevy Bolt EV, will make use of Microsoft's Azure cloud and edge computing platform in order to commercialize its autonomous vehicles at scale. In turn, Microsoft will gain access to Cruise's industry experience to enhance its own new transportation-related tech products.
"Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
For its part, Honda wants to launch its new MaaS business mobility service in Japan using the Cruise Origin, the fully autonomous transport vehicle revealed a year ago. GM and Honda first joined forces with Cruise as part of a three-way agreement back in 2018 when they announced a 12-year, $2 billion investment. Because it lacks a steering wheel, the Cruise will need to receive an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to begin operating on public roads.