Cab aggregator Ola partners with Microsoft to build a new connected car platform

In order to build a new connected vehicle platform for car manufacturers worldwide, Indian cab aggregator Ola on Tuesday said it has tied up with Microsoft Corp.

As part of this strategic partnership, Microsoft will be a preferred cloud services provider to Ola and the Indian taxi start-up will use Microsoft Azure for Ola Play, the company’s existing connected car platform.

The startup claims that it will transform driver and passenger experiences, providing vehicle diagnostics, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, predictive maintenance of vehicles and more. Both companies will collaborate to take this platform to car manufacturers globally, to integrate with vehicle systems.

“Today’s car is quickly becoming the ultimate computing device and together with Ola, we’re focused on providing more intelligent, connected and productive experiences to our customers. The combination of Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our AI platform with Ola Play will deliver new customer experiences and business opportunities across the automotive ecosystem,” Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft said in a statement.

Ola Play customers will be able to use productivity tools such as Office 365 and Skype for Business, as well as voice-assisted controls built using Microsoft Cognitive Services and bot framework, in-car during their rides.

Cab aggregator Ola, on the other hand, will leverage Microsoft AI and IoT to enhance driver experiences with telematics and navigation guidance. Furthermore, the advanced telematics platform will transform the car into a high-performing, intelligent vehicle, capable of assessing fuel efficiency, engine performance, and driver performance. However, it will also enable smarter navigation and predict breakdowns, enhancing safety and security while creating new business models and opportunities.

“Globally, the auto industry is experiencing a seismic shift as the definition of automobiles is increasingly changing from gas-powered vehicles to technology-packed, connected devices. With Ola Play, we have already set the tone for connected vehicles in India; together with Microsoft, we can make the new platform available to a larger, global audience and unlock futuristic experiences for customers worldwide,” said co-founder and CEO Ola, Bhavish Aggarwal.

The platform is designed to continually collect, analyse, and learn from high volumes of data and user behaviour. This will allow for customised offerings to shape the nature of services and business models, such as usage-based insurance, amongst others. Microsoft and Ola also plan to build superior safety features and advanced driver assistance services, as well.

Launched in November last year, Ola Play is an onboard entertainment system that was originally available to Ola Prime customers in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi. The platform grew over 200 percent (quarter-on-quarter) in terms of the number of rides. Since then, the service was expanded to six cities across India. The latest addition was Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai.