Google and Renault are working on a ‘software-defined vehicle’

Google and Groupe Renault are expanding their four-year partnership to include the development of an advanced software platform for future vehicles. This “software-defined vehicle” will be built on Google’s Android Automotive operating system and send data to the company’s cloud servers for processing, the companies announced.

In 2018, Renault struck a deal with Google as part of a broader partnership between the tech giant and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which together is one of the world’s largest auto groups. As part of the deal, the Alliance announced that it would adopt Google’s native car operating system, which offers built-in Assistant, Maps and the Play Store.

Renault says it’s naming Google its ‘preferred cloud provider’

However, today’s announcement is only between Google and Renault. As such, it only applies to the four brands of the French automaker, Renault, Dacia, Alpine and Mobilize. Renault says it is naming Google as its “preferred cloud provider”. (Other automakers have gone with Amazon Web Services.)

That first deal was just about putting Android in millions of new vehicles. Today’s announcement is a bit more complex. Google and Renault say they will work together to create a “digital twin,” or virtual carbon copy of a vehicle that features advanced artificial intelligence capabilities “for easier and continuous integration of new in-vehicle services and the creation of new on board (In-Car Services) and external applications”, the companies announced.

Google and Renault say collaborating on software and testing new AI capabilities in a virtual simulation will help improve vehicle operations through improved real-time diagnostics. The car will tell the driver when it needs maintenance or even rectify the problem itself. In addition, vehicle owners will be able to create a personalized experience that includes driving behavior, frequently visited destinations and electric vehicle charging locations. And insurance models can be built using real data from the car itself.

Other automakers are also developing software-defined vehicles as they race to compete with Tesla, which has come to define what customers expect from their vehicle software. The idea is that a vehicle is sold with a basic level of hardware and that its features are largely dictated by its software, which can be upgraded and improved with over-the-air updates.

Google has been trying to break into the automotive space for more than a decade, but its efforts have been hampered by automakers worried about competition. But the company has been increasingly successful in getting major automakers to bend to its will, including Ford, GM, Volvo, Honda and BMW.

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