Volvo announced today it is partnering with Microsoft to “jointly develop next generation automotive technologies.”
One area of focus will be autonomous driving, the company said in a statement. Other areas of possible cooperation are information-gathering to "enhance the driving experience" and using predictive analytics to improve safety.
“We are extremely happy to innovate with Microsoft in the field of future mobility,” Klas Bendrik, senior vice president and chief information officer at Volvo Cars, said in the press release. “Today’s technology will allow us to achieve not only a more sustainable and crash-free future but also new benefits for our customers and society. Together with Microsoft we aim to pioneer in this field.”
The two companies kicked off their collaboration today with a demonstration at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Calif., of how the company’s HoloLens, a wearable computer where holograms are mixed into the physical world, could be used “to redefine how customers first encounter and explore a car, as well as how cars might be bought and sold in future.” Participants got a holographic preview of Volvo’s S90 premium sedan, which is scheduled to unveiled in non-virtual form at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2016.
The demonstration showed how mixed reality might be used by customers to configure cars in three dimensions—exploring colors, rims and getting a better understanding of the options and services available. Instead of going to a traditional dealership and test-driving an actual car, customers could try out the car configurator in small Pop-Up stores, shopping malls or on the street, potentially opening up new sales channels and introducing cars to larger audiences.
“We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Cars to reimagine what is possible in car design, discovery and purchasing. We are excited to be at this intersection of technology and human-centric design with Volvo,” Scott Erickson, Senior Director, Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft Corp. said in the statement.
“Today’s demonstration marks the beginning of longer term cooperation between Volvo and Microsoft that will embrace a range of new technologies, all of which have implications for the automotive industry,” Volvo said.
Volvo also recently announced a program called Drive-Me in which 100 self-driving and connected cars will be given to real customers on real roads around the Swedish city of Gothenburg by 2017.