How Amazon, Google, other hyperscalers are transforming the auto industry

Although it doesn’t have an estimate for automotive-related cloud spending, IT researcher Canalys estimates the overall global cloud infrastructure market will increase at about 16 percent a year on average, rising to reach roughly $300 billion by 2025.

While services are similar, there are some differences between providers.

“Whereas AWS was first to market, giving it time to build out its capabilities, Google was more of a laggard and had to focus more on specific verticals such as banking,” said Matthew Ball, Canalys’ chief analyst, about the overall cloud infrastructure market.

While Google Cloud is smaller than its two main rivals, Wee said the business has been growing at a faster rate — about 50 percent — in part because of its competitive advantage in semiconductors designed specifically for AI.

Known as tensor processing units, or TPUs, these proprietary chips, which are not for sale, can be trained with visual data to spot blemishes on a car’s paint job or defects in a powertrain component using visual clues. (AWS in November began utilizing A100 chips that feature tensor cores for similar applications, but these are graphics processors sold by Nvidia.)

“The reason we have that is because we are probably one of the biggest consumers of machine learning on the planet. Every time you type something into Google, you have just used our algorithms,” Wee said.

With the help of AI, Google believes it can improve an automaker’s efficiency at a double-digit rate. In the case of Renault this is done by aggregating data from more than 2,500 machines deployed across 22 production sites worldwide.

Just like with Android, Google Cloud believes its commitment to support other open-source software such as Kubernetes and TensorFlow is a key selling point. This enables a customer to more easily switch providers or add new ones, reducing the risk of being locked in with any one particular vendor.

“This was a huge factor for Renault,” Wee said. “One of the reasons they went with us was the security that if at any point in time they wanted to move providers, they were at liberty to do so.”