back to article Better buckle up: Volkswagen puts Microsoft in driver's seat to deliver 'automated' platform

Volkswagen and Microsoft will build an "Automated Driving Platform" powered by AI services on the Azure cloud, according to an announcement from the two giants today. The German car maker's relationship with Microsoft is not new. In 2018 it said it would create a "new automotive cloud" on Azure that was focused on driver …

  1. Snake Silver badge

    VW. Not.

    I have previously owned a VW, and was extremely happy with it. But like Mitsubishi (I had the misfortune of owning 2, pretty much both 'halo' cars in their class at that), they are now off my shopping list.

    Between the dud 2.0t, their absolutely stupid-level U.S. pricing (a $42,000 Golf R hatchback with an (admittedly powerful) turbo 2-litre? Are you guys CRAZY??!!), and Dieselgate...

    You. Are. Done.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: VW. Not.

      Would you rather have Google? Between the two I'd pick Microsoft's cloud, because they don't have their fingers in nearly as many data pies as Google does, and are generally more incompetent so if they tried to misuse my data they'd probably screw it up.

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft

        "...generally more incompetent so if they tried to misuse my data they'd probably screw it up.

        LOL! That, my friend, will go down as a classic line.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft

          But it'll probably stop in the middle of the M1 to do an update and reboot.

          1. stiine Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft

            I'm not sure why you think your car would stop while microsoft was rebooting it after a mid-course seem rather naive...

          2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

            Re: Microsoft

            That's OK. Just open and close all windows and you're good to go.

      2. druck Silver badge

        Re: VW. Not.

        Google or Azure? This isn't about your advertising preferences, but putting your and others lives in the hands of that incompetent AI / Cloud provider.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: VW. Not.

        As far as I'm concerned that's both VW and Ford off the list if I ever buy another car. However what I've got might well see my driving days out.

        1. NATTtrash

          Re: VW. Not.

          Ah! Excellent! I hope this all comes through quickly! I can only see the price on my Volvo Amazon go up and up! Old timers rule! Even the Karman Ghia of the missus, despite being a VW, will increase in value! I can retire! Pension assured!

      4. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

        Re: VW. Not.

        They can screw up two ways, one good for you, the other not so much.

        If they get your location wrong it could be that your spouse does not realise you are playing away or the FBI spot you as a drug dealer. Your choice.

    2. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: ANY of them. Not.

      I don't care who is building the car or who is writing the software, automated driving is anathema to me.

      Ultimately, a car's sensors may catch some things that I wouldn't but, at the same time, I will catch other things that they don't. So give me warnings but don't assume that you don't need my eyeballs.

      I don't buy a car to binge watch Netflix while it drives me to my destination and parks.

      1. Rob Daglish

        Re: ANY of them. Not.

        I know what you mean, but equally, we've seen enough drunks, drugged, and just bloody useless drivers of the carbon-based variety that I'm not really that worried by how much extra damage a self driving car can cause - a friend of mine took 13 attempts to pass his test - I have to question if he was really cut out for driving.

        1. druck Silver badge

          Re: ANY of them. Not.

          Then the answer is to make the human driving test harder, rather than to set the bar for AI to be better than a drunk driver.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ANY of them. Not.

            Driving tests won't stop drunk or drugged driving. Also some people are good, but careless or too aggressive drivers, and a simple test won't catch that. There is no obvious solution.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Its going to get worse before it gets better

        Since more and more cars are doing more of the driving already since there are basically no regulations. Cruise control was fine, but combine that with automated lane keeping and automated braking and you basically have self driving down the expressway as far as lot of people are concerned. Some do a pretty decent job of making sure the driver is paying attention or else disabling the system (GM Supercruise) and others do a deliberately terrible job of it (Tesla Autopilot) so while you may not be binging Netflix on the drive home more and more other drivers will be.

    3. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: VW. Not.

      I suppose the question with all these is what happens if it can't talk to the server.

      Depending how it talks to the cloud, rip out SIM or whatever transceiver module it uses. Or will it stop working or only work in limp mode? I guess if it does, someone will either hack it or create fake "server" for it to talk to. Assuming people still care about being snooped on.

      All my cars have been, are, and are likely to be few decades old or at most from 00's so I'm very likely to avoid this and just need to stock up on popcorn.

    4. hoola Silver badge

      Re: VW. Not.

      The emissions problems look to be endemic across all manufacturers.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Re: VW. Not.

        To be clear about this, because it's often repeated that "they were all at it":

        Every manufacturer is guilty of following the letter, but not the spirit, of the emissions regulations; they programmed their cars' engine controllers to behave differently when they detected "test-like" driving patterns. But, if you happened to drive your car that way, you'd have achieved the quoted emissions (but, let's be clear, almost nobody drives like the NEDC cycle)

        But: only Volkswagen was found to have deliberately programmed their cars to detect the test situation itself, and then behave differently while the car was being tested. Because this mode only activated when the car was in a lab (front wheels turning but rear wheels not turning, driver's door open), there was no way to reproduce the result while on the road, no matter how frugal your driving style.

        That was a whole new level of cheating beyond what the rest of the industry did.

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: VW. Not.

          Exactly, every car company games the emission testing but VW actually cheated. It is like the difference between tax avoidance and tax fraud. One may be morally questionable but the other is against the law.

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    Cloud based driving...

    I would hope that the cloudy bit is "additional learning" and maybe "distribution of upgrades" with the actual driving not needing any connection...


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So will be now need to press the "Start" button

    to stop VW Beetles?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So will be now need to press the "Start" button

      Updating Volkswagon

      don't turn off your car

      1 % .........

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So will be now need to press the "Start" button

      My wife's key-less car has a button that both starts and stops it.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    At what point

    will it become necessary to close all the windows and restart the engine to proceed?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: At what point

      And if one of the windows won't close, will the car refuse to stop?

  5. The Alphabet

    Bork right into a hedge.

  6. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Automotive Clippy

    "It looks like you're going to the beach(*). Would you like me to drive you there?"

    Drives over Beachy Head.

    (*) Post lockdown of course.

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Re: Automotive Clippy

      Not Beachy Head, but ....

      Nobody was in the car!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Automotive Clippy

        "Nobody was in the car!"

        More's thee pity - it had been stolen.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Automotive Clippy

      "Drives over Beachy Head."

      That is what's known as driving over the Edge!

  7. IGotOut Silver badge

    Morris Marina

    come back, all is forgiven.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Morris Marina

      Not entirely. It was while doing a brake adjustment on a Marina estate that I first put my back out & it's been affecting me for about 40 years.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Morris Marina

        while doing a brake adjustment on a Marina

        Ah, memories...

        There are some things which technology definitely has improved.

  8. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "potential buyers may want to check the privacy policy before purchase"

    Checking the privacy policy before purchase may not help too much unless it just drives a decision to buy or not to buy. Our just published privacy policy research found that they commonly require you to agree in advance to any changes that may be made in the future. It's illegal under the GDPR, but that doesn't stop organisations doing it, and once you've made the purchase you're stuffed as the complaints process is hard and you're quite unlikely to have an individual complaint taken seriously by the regulators.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: "potential buyers may want to check the privacy policy before purchase"

      And what fucking good does that do when you really don't have much of a choice in vehicles to start with? And they ALL have shitty repair or privacy policies?

      Hm, let's see... I can buy this Tesla but I can't get parts or have it serviced anywhere except a dealership... or I can buy this shitty VW and give all my data to Microsoft... or I can buy this shitty Ford and give all my data to Google... OR I CAN WALK!

      Decisions, decisions.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "potential buyers may want to check the privacy policy before purchase"

        Or buy a used car, which is what I intend to do for the remainder of my driving career.

        My 1992 Toyota pickup may well outlive me, so that's probably sorted. My 2015 Volvo, which I need for my long-distance driving (the Toyota is not suitable for 10-18 hours of highway travel), ought to last a while yet. When it needs to be replaced, I should be able to find something used that is reasonably safe, capacious, and comfortable for long drives, but also in decent condition and without spyware.

  9. WolfFan Silver badge

    I drive a Toyota

    We don’t need no stinking AI, we use rubber bands and gaijins from Texas and Mississippi? And maybe some Koreans. Banzai!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I drive a Toyota

      Original Landrover - barely uses wheels

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: I drive a Toyota

        Yep, fix em with a large adjustable spanner, a welder and hammer.

        Just have some old bits of bodywork for the welder feed rod.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now the blue screen of death

    will finally get its true meaning.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Now the blue screen of death

      There is nothing here to indicate that Windows will be the OS in the vehicle. This is all about the metrics that are uploaded or downloaded from the services running in Azure. These will be processed and munged about to try and improve the autonomous driving capability. The bigger issues I suspect will be modern cars will continue to upload more information in the background to enable manufacturers to improve their capabilities.

      I also surmise that at some point in the not to distant future there will be no way of opting out. At best is may be like Windows basic metrics vs full metrics but it is going to be there.

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    looks like there is an obstruction in your lane, would you like clippy to help you? please answer before continuing to drive.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, Microsoft, but

    for at least three months of our Canadian winter, aunt Mary will be way better than any Microsoft algorithm.

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Buyers are advised to check the privacy policy"

    My privacy policy is simple : it's my car, you can fuck off.

    I will not buy any car that is tied to any other person's server. I don't care what your excuses are, or what service you pretend to offer, as long as I am the one who is legally liable for how the car behaves, you can go drown in a gutter if you think I am going to give you the slightest amount of input in how I drive my car.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its getting harder

    just to buy a vehicle that has traditional controls. Nothing hidden in stupid places like paddles behind steering wheels. Just handbrakes that look and act like handbrakes and so little automation that you can trust it to not shop you to snoops, TLAs or $RANDOM organisations or do weird things for no reason. My ancient station wagon looks like it is going to get a full rebuild because it "just works", is safe and has great fuel efficiency and long range, especially when towing. By long rang, I mean 500 km non-stop with large reserve. If you think thats far, you have never been to Oz NT, western Qld or WA. Even NSW can be tedious.

    I note some emergency service vehicles in Oz are having software issues with things as simple as radio transceivers losing power randomly and emergency lights (red and blues) self activating and not being able to be turned off without full vehicle reboot. This is a problem in heavy traffic. Earlier models had mechanical switches that also just worked and were mostly easy to fix if damaged,

    And to continue the rant about stupidly installed software, this morning I had to reboot a water fountain. Looks like WinCE controlled device. Full power cycle at power switch. For simple hot and cold water dispensing at a sink. Foxtrot Foxtrot Sierra.

    1. RPF

      Re: Its getting harder

      I've just imported a 1996 W124 Mercedes Benz in to the UK in order to get a rust-free CANBUS-free superbly-built 'proper' car and it's absolutely wonderful. So comfortable, simple, intuitive and solid-feeling that shows modern car design and technology has gone in completely the wrong direction for consumers.

      Obviously it's the right direction for the manufacturers, as only main dealers can service/fix them, they will go wrong a lot and they're not built to last. But for Joe Bloggs modern cars are expensive junk.

  15. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    2 Losers in Autonomous Vehicles

    Why would anyone consider a vehicle from these 2 also rans?

  16. MJI Silver badge

    This is why slightly older cars will increase in value

    And I hope to keep my 2003 car at least another decade

  17. Adventurer

    No GPS / Web service Questions.

    How well does the car perform with a driver when there is no available internet and/ or no GPS signal in Australia's remote areas?

    Can you delay the reboot till yiou are safely off the road? What about should the reboot fail? Can you go back to the last installed version of the OS.

    It sounds Very Wonkey (VW) to me.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: No GPS / Web service Questions.

      > there is no available internet and/ or no GPS signal in Australia's remote areas?

      Well I guess you're out of luck (or will need to bolt a satellite antenna on the car's roof).

      Already some rented cars just say "no" when they can't get a phone signal anymore, so this is clearly not something bothering the industry too much. Like always, marketing only thinks about their main target, which in this case is exclusively (sub)urban.

      1. sreynolds

        Re: No GPS / Web service Questions.

        I think that the GPS constellation is in 12 hour orbits and cover all the planet and even have to pass over some remote paces in the indian ocean for monitoring, so I don't thin that GPS would be your problem. I think that the G stands for global, because American weapons usually go overseas.

        I would be more concerned with the google cars, that are given away but project ads onto the RealWorld (tm).

  18. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oh hell no

    Goodbye VW. Your long slide to mediocrity and dementia is now complete.

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