Volvo and Microsoft enter deal to co-develop next-generation automotive technologies

Article by Andrew Christian, on December 4, 2015

Volvo Cars and Microsoft are collaborating to jointly develop next-generation automotive technologies. In fact, the two companies just conducted a demonstration of the first fully untethered holographic computer -- Microsoft HoloLens – to show that this technology could be used to redefine how customers first encounter and explore a vehicle, giving them an opportunity to configure their units in three dimensions.

Also, the demonstration -- conducted at Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, USA -- aimed to show that wearable HoloLens could be used to redefine how cars might be sold or purchased in the future. It also showed that holograms can be mixed into the physical world.

Interestingly, the demonstration turned out to be a mixed-reality preview of Volvo’s new S90 premium saloon. This new product from Volvo will have its real world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

Participating journalists were given a rare opportunity to experience the new Volvo S90 and its latest autonomous driving technology in 3D – even before the carmaker has even produced the saloon. Thus, the event at Redmond provided a glimpse of what mixed reality can do to transform the relationship between the customer and a vehicle.

Scott Erickson, Senior Director, Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft Corp., remarked that the company is thrilled to collaborate with Volvo Cars to reimagine the potential in car design, discovery and purchasing. He added that they are now in the "intersection" of technology and human-centric design.

With the demonstration, Volvo and Microsoft marked the start of a longer-term collaboration between the two companies, which should cover new technologies related to the auto industry. Volvo and Microsoft could also collaborate, albeit in the future, in the areas of autonomous driving as well as the usage of data generated from connected cars to develop new services.

Cooperation in such areas between the two companies would not be a surprise, since Volvo is considered a pioneer in automotive safety and is one of the leaders in terms of connected cars and autonomous driving.

In fact, the carmaker has announced a program called Drive-Me that entails the distribution of around 100 self-driving and connected cars to real customers on real roads in Gothenburg, Sweden by 2017. When that happens, the program would become the largest autonomous driving experiment in the world.

Likewise, the cooperation between Volvo and Microsoft could also include how information gathered by vehicles and their drivers can be utilized to further improve the driving experience as well as the potential of employing predictive analytics to enhance vehicle safety. Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Marketing Sales and Service at Volvo Cars, remarked that HoloLens provides an opportunity to create a bespoke experience that involves customers themselves.

He said the HoloLens can be used by customer to carefully select the car they want as it allows them to explore the colors and wheels while giving them a better understanding of the vehicle features, services and available options.

Annwall added that the technology could also free dealers from more traditional sales environments while giving them the liberty to take a car configurator on the road, shopping malls or on the high street. He said that the technology would help open up new sales channels and help dealers introduce new cars to a larger audience.

On the other hand, Klas Bendrik, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Volvo Cars, remarked that the carmaker is delighted to work with Microsoft in the field of future mobility, adding that technology will allow them to create a more sustainable future without car accidents, while providing new benefits to its customers and the society.

Press Release

VOLVO CARS TO DEVELOP NEXT-GENERATION AUTOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGIES WITH MICROSOFT

Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, will work together with Microsoft, the leading platform and productivity company, to jointly develop next-generation automotive technologies.

The two companies today revealed how Microsoft HoloLens, the world’s first fully untethered holographic computer, might be used in future to redefine how customers first encounter and explore a car, as well as how cars might be bought and sold in future.

Areas of future collaboration between the two companies could include autonomous driving technologies and the utilisation of data generated from connected cars to create new services.

Today’s HoloLens demonstration was conducted at Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, USA, and showed how mixed reality might be used by customers to configure cars in three dimensions. With HoloLens – a powerful, wearable computer – holograms are mixed into the physical world.

“HoloLens offers the freedom to create a bespoke experience which customers can steer themselves. Imagine using mixed reality to choose the type of car you want – to explore the colours and wheels, or get a better understanding of the features, services and options available,” said Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Marketing Sales and Service at Volvo Cars.

He added that HoloLens technology might also liberate dealers from more traditional sales environments and allow them to take a car configurator out on the road in small Pop-Up stores, shopping malls or on the high street, opening up new sales channels and introducing cars to a far larger potential audience.

At the HoloLens demonstration today, participating journalists were also given a mixed-reality preview of Volvo’s new S90 premium saloon, which will be unveiled in reality at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

Today’s event offered an indication of the potential of mixed reality to transform the relationship between the customer and the car. Journalists were able to experience Volvo’s new saloon and its latest autonomous driving technology in 3D before the car has even been built and launched.

“We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Cars to reimagine what is possible in car design, discovery and purchasing," said Scott Erickson, Senior Director, Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft Corp. "We are excited to be at this intersection of technology and human-centric design with Volvo.”

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.

One area of focus will be autonomous driving. Volvo Cars is a pioneer in car safety and is leading the way when it comes to connected cars and autonomous driving. It has announced a programme 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, making it the world’s largest autonomous driving experiment.

Other areas of cooperation are expected to include how information gathered by cars and their drivers can be used to enhance the driving experience and the possibility of using predictive analytics to improve safety.

“We are extremely happy to innovate with Microsoft in the field of future mobility,” said Klas Bendrik, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Volvo Cars. “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.”

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Volvo Car Group in 2014

For the 2014 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 2,252 MSEK (1,919 MSEK in 2013). Revenue over the period amounted to 129,959 MSEK (122,245 MSEK). For the full year 2014, global sales reached a record 465,866 cars, an increase of 8.9 per cent versus 2013. The record sales and operating profit cleared the way for Volvo Car Group to continue investing in its global transformation plan.

About Volvo Car Group

Volvo has been in operation since 1927. Today, Volvo Cars is one of the most well-known and respected car brands in the world with sales of 465,866 in 2014 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding (Geely Holding) of China since 2010. It formed part of the Swedish Volvo Group until 1999, when the company was bought by Ford Motor Company of the US. In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding.

As of December 2014, Volvo Cars had over 26,000 employees worldwide. Volvo Cars head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars head office for China is located in Shanghai. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium) and Chengdu (China), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China) and body components in Olofström (Sweden).

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