Renault and Google are working on a ‘Software Defined Vehicle’

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A four-year partnership between Google and Renault Motors Group is expanding to include the development of an advanced software platform for future vehicles. Using Google’s Android Automotive operating system, the ‘software-defined car’ would send data to the companies’ cloud servers.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, one of the largest auto groups in the world, struck a deal with Google in 2018 as part of a broader partnership. According to the deal, the alliance will adopt Google’s native car operating system, which includes a built-in assistant, maps, and the Play Store.

Today’s announcement, however, is only between Google and Renault. As such, it applies only to Renault, Dacia, Alpine, and Mobiliz, the four French automakers. Reno says Google is its “preferred cloud provider”. Amazon Web Services is where other automakers have gone.

In the first deal, Androids were just going into millions of new cars. The announcement today is a bit more complicated. Using advanced AI capabilities, Google and Renault will create a “Digital Twin” of a vehicle, which will allow for easier and continuous integration of new services into vehicles and the creation of new on-board (in-vehicle) and external applications.

As a result of collaborating on software and testing new AI capabilities in a virtual simulation, Google and Renault claim to be able to improve vehicle operation through real-time diagnostics. When the car needs service or until it is fixed itself, it will inform the driver. Furthermore, vehicle owners can customize their driving behavior, frequent destinations, and charging stations for electric vehicles. A vehicle’s actual data can be used in insurance models.

In an attempt to compete with Tesla, other automakers are also developing software-defined vehicles. Tesla has come to define what customers expect from their cars’ software. Essentially, a car comes with basic hardware, and its features are largely determined by its software, which can be upgraded via over-the-air updates.

Automakers’ concerns about competition have stymied Google’s efforts to enter the car market for more than a decade. It has, however, increasingly succeeded in getting Ford, Volvo, Honda, and BMW to bend to its will.

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