Microsoft Has Plans to Make Autonomous Cars Intelligent

Microsoft is already planning the next step for autonomous vehicles – artificial intelligence.
(Image source: Microsoft) 

The next wave of automotive innovation depends on artificial intelligence (AI).

At his DesignCon 2017 keynote, Doug Seven, Microsoft's Group Program Manager – Things That Move, told the audience that in his meetings with automotive execs cars aren't being talked about like machines anymore. “Cars are essentially data centers on wheels,” Seven said.

Seven said there's enough pressure on the automotive industry right now to make changes toward autonomous cars, but there are also key innovations that need to happen. Paramount among these for Microsoft is that cars need to become intelligent.

“When you think about what it takes from a software and hardware standpoint to make a car autonomous it's daunting,” Seven said. “It's not just about sensors and connectivity, it's about intelligence and low latency.”

Machine learning is already being applied to vehicles and holds promise in areas such as predictive maintenance and real-time analytics. At CES 2017, Microsoft unveiled the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform , a cloud-based platform that serves as a reference for automakers and design engineers to build solutions in five key areas: telematics and predictive maintenance; productivity and digital life; connected advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS); advanced navigation; and customer insight and engagement.

In addition to this, Microsoft has already released its Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit , an open-source toolkit for creating applications capable of deep learning across clustered environments, as well as the Microsoft Cognitive Services API.

Seven talked about how Microsoft's Cognitive Services API already includes an Emotion API capable of understanding the emotions of someone's face, including anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness, and surprise. He asked the audience to imagine applying this same capability to autonomous vehicles. “If we could detect things like road rage or stress, we could [have a vehicle] do things to alter the environment for the driver or passengers.”


Pacific Design and Manufacturing Show, Anaheim“The Best Manufacturing and Design Tradeshow of the Season.”   Register today   for Pacific Design & Manufacturing   , Feb. 7-9, 2017, at the Anaheim Convention Center, and see why your colleagues and competitors attend North America’s largest annual advanced design and manufacturing event year after year.

But that term “cloud-based” is the obstacle. Right now the Cognitive API and Cognitive Toolkit are cloud-based, which won't suffice for self-driving cars.

“What we can do in the cloud with our AI capabilities is to build algorithms and models to let cars become intelligent and make decisions,” Seven told the DesignCon audience. “But we can't rely on the cloud because we might lose connectivity or their might be latency issues."

The next step is to create AI within the cars themselves that will have meaningful interactions with drivers, passengers, and the car's environment. "We're talking about putting hardware in a car that is capable of processing data for the purposes of AI," Seven said.

“We have to move the workload from the cloud to the edge,” Seven said. “We need hardware in the car capable of processing that data in real time.” According to Seven, self-driving cars need latencies in the sub-millisecond range to be fully effective on


Given the track record established by microsopht over the past 20 years or so, the very biggest contribution that organization can make would be to stay out of the picture regarding autonomous vehicles. All of the code that they produce is buggy and needs constant upgrades and fixes. This should be obvious to all computer users. To put it more clearly, if microsoft gets into the driverless vehicle program in any way, WE ARE DOOMED!!!

We can all hope that it's like other MS know: pause and do a thirty minute update when you turn it on or just shut the whole car down at the most inconvenient time possible to run updates.

Yes, given their track record, this is not a good idea. Me: "Mobile Apps" Sync: "Mobile Apps, is that correct" Me: "Yes" Sync: (after a delay) "Please answer yes or no" Me: "YES" Sync: "Mobile Apps, please say a command" Me: "Spotify" Sync: "Calling Best Buy"

Bad idea. First of all, vehicles are much too harsh of an environment for reliable computer installation. The vibration, temperature extremes, moisture, etc., make integrated circuits very unreliable. Which makes any autonomous system attempt, very dangerous. Second is that no one is going to allow their privacy to be compromised by networking their car. Can you imagine the police arresting you because your vehicle was near a crime scene? Everyone would disable any such system.

The harsh environment for the computer driven cars is my very least thing to be concerned about, because the means to harden mobile computers has been available and getting better for many years. It is true that the standard consumer-type of computers would be worthless for this application, just as any consumer grade software from a purveyor of buggy software would be deadly. But we already have a lot of computers on board that are adequately reliable, at least most of the time. (continued next

The really dangerous part will be the software that pretends to know what we want to do next, written by neurotic abnormal people who do not reside anyplace similar to the real world. All that you need to do to verify this assertion is observe the most recently released (popular) operating systems. Do you want those minds to have any part of driving your car with you in it?????

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.