19 February, 2021

Bosch and Microsoft team up to connect cars to the cloud

Data

Bosch and Microsoft are teaming up to develop a software platform that connects cars to the cloud. The two companies want to accelerate the advancement and deployment of vehicle software across a car’s lifetime.

Based on Microsoft Azure, and equipped with Bosch modules, the platform will allow software to be developed and downloaded to the control units and vehicle computers. The collaboration will also advance the tools that increase the efficiency in software building.

For consumers, the system will mean quicker access to new functions and digital services. Microsoft and Bosch currently aim to make the software platform available for vehicle prototypes by the end of 2021.

Essential software

Given the digitisation of vehicles, software is becoming an increasingly important tool, one which both companies see as instrumental to future generations of cars. They point to it as essential for new trends in electromobility, automated driving, and modern mobility services. These advances will also mean more frequent updates in the future.

But updating a smartphone is not the same as updating a vehicle. The two companies admit that the number of safety requirements that have to be met throughout a vehicle’s lifetime make over-the-air (OTA) updates and digital services very complex. Furthermore, the wider range of different systems and models only adds another layer of complexity.

This is where Bosch’s knowledge of electronic architectures, control units, and vehicle computers comes into play, all of which are necessary for OTA vehicle updates. ‘With the comprehensive platform for software-defined cars, we want to further empower automakers to develop new functions and get them on the road faster,’ said Dr Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Bosch.

The company also brings its expertise and software-based products and development tools to the table. This includes the basic software and middleware for vehicle computers and control units, alongside cloud-based software modules to bring OTA updates to entire vehicle fleets. 

‘Having a comprehensive software platform from the vehicle to the cloud will reduce the complexity of the software development and the vehicle-system integration. In this way, we will create the conditions for wireless updates to work just as smoothly and conveniently in vehicles as they do in smartphones,’ Heyn says.

The pre-integrated platform should reduce the intricacy of over-the-air updates. This helps ensure a vehicle’s software is always up to date, thanks to the connection between the software architectures and the cloud.

Tech team-ups

As the lines between the automotive and technological worlds continue to blur, collaboration appears to be the name of the game. Microsoft is one such company making sure it has a seat saved for it in the digitisation of the car.

Volkswagen Group recently announced it would collaborate with the computer company on cloud-based developments. Microsoft also teamed up with Cruise and General Motors to speed up the commercialisation of autonomous-vehicle technology. Now in its latest collaboration, Microsoft’s know-how in software engineering and cloud computing will go hand-in-hand with Bosch’s wealth of software, electronics, and systems expertise.

‘Our collaboration with Bosch brings together the expertise of one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers with the power of the Microsoft cloud, AI and GitHub,’ said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud and AI at Microsoft. ‘With software quickly becoming a key differentiator in the automotive industry, our ambition is to help businesses accelerate the delivery of unique mobility services across passenger cars and commercial fleets at scale.’