General Motors has announced that it has partnered with self-driving car service provider Cruise and Microsoft in order to speed up the commercialisation of autonomous vehicles.

Microsoft joins General Motors, Honda and other institutional investors in a new combined equity investment of more than US$2 billion (RM8.1 billion) in San Fransisco-based Cruise, bringing the start-up’s valuation to US$30 billion (RM121.4 billion), reports Reuters. This is comparable to Waymo, which is valued at just over the same figure as Cruise’s, according to investor website PitchBook.

Waymo is Google’s autonomous vehicle division, which saw the addition of 100 units of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid MPVs as part of the tech firm’s collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. This was expanded to include work on light commercial vehicles, a role taken on by Ram ProMaster vans.

The partnership with Microsoft aims to bring from the latter its Azure cloud and edge computing platform in order to commercialise autonomous vehicle solutions at scale, says General Motors. This means that Cruise will use Microsoft’s cloud computing platform for its self-driving vehicle service.

General Motors’ passenger vehicles have also gained advanced driver assistance systems, dubbed Super Cruise in models such as the 2021 Cadillac Escalade

The Cruise Origin is also among the more recent efforts in General Motors’ partnership with Honda that has spanned more than two decades, and the Origin will be built at Factory Zero, also known as the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center for electric vehicles, using the Ultium battery platform that is also used for the GMC Hummer EV.

“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” said General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra, adding that the software giant will help GM realise more benefits of cloud computing as the American automaker aims to launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025, said Barra.

Autonomous driving systems in General Motors’ passenger vehicles takes the form of Super Cruise, the name given to advanced driver assistance systems in the company’s vehicles such as the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

Other automakers such as Volkswagen and Toyota have also engaged the services of Microsoft for its Azure cloud computing platform, although the German and Japanese automakers have used the platform for services and operations other than for autonomous driving, Reuters reported.