Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) is one of the few major tech companies not really involved in self-driving cars in any way. On Tuesday morning that seemed to be changing. The firm announced a partnership with Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ: BIDU) to make the self-driving car a reality.
The new deal, which will see the Chinese tech giant use Microsoft cloud services to power its self-driving car project, is part of a broader push by Baidu. Previously, early in July, the firm revealed a similar deal with NVIDIA Corporation.
Baidu makes concrete self driving deal
In this morning’s press release Microsoft said it will partner with Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ: BIDU) as part of the Apollo alliance. That’s a group of firms working together to make a self-driving car a reality.
“We’re excited to partner with Baidu to take a giant step in helping automotive manufacturers and suppliers fully realize the promise of autonomous driving,” said Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) Vice President Kevin Dallas.
The deal appears to be about capturing Microsoft’s experience in the cloud and AI. “By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning, and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer,” Mr. Dallas said.
Baidu’s President Ya-Qin Zhang added “Our goal with Apollo is to provide an open and powerful platform to the automotive industry to further the goal of autonomous vehicles.”
With a major American tech concern on its side, that goal may be a whole lot easier. Azure is one of the most well known and trusted cloud platforms out there. Giving partners a secure way to share data should be very helpful as this tech develops.
Is Microsoft chasing the self driving car?
We have no clue whether Microsoft is going to get deeply involved in the self-driving car project. So far the firm has shown little interest in the automotive world. That is despite its biggest rivals Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc investing in the area.
With the Baidu partnership, however, Microsoft may be able to see itself entering automotion. Its cloud technologies are clearly part of a strong system that Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ: BIDU) sees taking over the world. Because of the growing worldwide nature of the Apollo group, the firm is a key partner.
The Redmond, Washington firm already stores and manages data for other car firms like BMW and and Ford.
Even if Microsoft has no plan to enter the car world, this is a good sign for its future. As more and more data comes out of cars and into servers, it wants its piece of the pie. Structuring, storing and analyzing the data are all part of the firm’s wheelhouse.
Because the Baidu deal is a small part of Microsoft business, stock moved little on the news. At time of writing shares were down a fraction. That was in line with the tech market in general. While Microsoft was falling, Baidu was rising, though the deal may not have been the culprit.