Vehicle-to-vehicle communication promises to prevent thousands of collisions and injuries annually, DOT and NHTSA believe. (Image downloaded from NHTSA August 2014 report)

Microsoft Unveils Connected Vehicle Platform

Renault-Nissan is the first auto manufacturer to commit to the platform to build connected cars.

Microsoft announced its Connected Vehicle Platform at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with Peggy Johnson, the company's executive vice president for Business Development, explaining in a blog post that the platform is a set of services built on the Microsoft Azure cloud and is "designed to empower auto manufacturers to create custom connected driving experiences." It is not an in-car operating system, she wrote, but a "living, agile platform that starts with the cloud as the foundation and aims to address five core scenarios that our partners have told us are key priorities: predictive maintenance, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and help building autonomous driving capabilities."

Renault-Nissan is the first auto manufacturer to commit to the platform to build connected cars.

Johnson explained that traditional automakers face disruption from connected, autonomous, shared, and electric cars. "The infrastructure and scale required to build a connected car is incredibly complicated, expensive and resource intensive. At its core, it's a software challenge, and a chief obstacle for these brands is integrating the complex cloud technology required to deliver next-generation driving experiences," she wrote, adding that "Microsoft's cloud will do the heavy lifting by ingesting huge volumes of sensor and usage data from connected vehicles, and then helping automakers apply that data in powerful ways."

A public preview will be available later this year, and a video explaining the new platform is available here. The company intends to partner with automakers and does not plan to build its own connected car, she added.

The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a rule four weeks ago, on Dec. 13, 2016, that would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies across the country. The agency's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology, which would allow vehicles to "talk" to each other to avoid crashes. "We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained. "This long-promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression. Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety."

"Advanced vehicle technologies may well prove to be the silver bullet in saving lives on our roadways," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. "V2V and automated vehicle technologies each hold great potential to make our roads safer and, when combined, their potential is untold."

The rule would require automakers to include V2V technologies in all new light-duty vehicles that would allow them to speak the same language through standardized messaging. NHTSA estimates these applications could eliminate or mitigate the harm caused by up to 80 percent of non-impaired crashes.

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