Homegrown cab aggregator Ola today announced its partnership with Microsoft to build a new connected vehicle platform, which will be offered to carmakers across the globe for integration with their vehicle systems. In an official statement, Ola stated that Microsoft will be a preferred cloud provider and it will use Microsoft Azure to power Ola Play, the company’s existing connected car platform.
The ride-sharing startup claims that this will transform driver and passenger experiences with 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.
At the heart of this partnership is Ola Play, the world’s first connected car platform for ridesharing, that will leverage Microsoft AI and IoT to enhance driver experiences with telematics and navigation guidance; passenger experiences with cloud-based infotainment and productivity; and provide auto manufacturers with custom digital experiences for their customers.
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. The advanced telematics platform will transform the car into a high-performing, intelligent vehicle, capable of assessing fuel efficiency, engine performance, and driver performance. It will also enable smarter navigation and predict breakdowns, enhancing safety and security while creating new business models and opportunities.
“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,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “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.”
Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO of Ola said, “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.”
The platform is designed to continually collect, analyze, 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.
In October 2017, Ola announced that it has closed $1.1 billion in fresh financing. The company also said that it is in advanced talks with other investors to close an additional US$1 billion as part of the current financing round, concluding a total raise of over US$2 billion. With its latest round of funding, Ola will be making strategic investments in supply, technology, and cutting edge innovations to build for the country’s unique transportation needs. The company is expected to make significant technology investments into Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities to solve for India’s unique mobility problems. By doubling down on penetration, Ola intends to go deeper into the Indian market to serve the vast majority of Indians who are looking for affordable and reliable commute and transportation.
The company claims that Ola Play, which was launched in late 2016, has transformed the in-car experience for millions of Indians in a short span of time. Since, connected car technology is rapidly gaining huge traction in India, it will not only ensure enhanced customer experience but also enables the safety of driver, passenger and vehicles.