Cruise and parent General Motors said they had entered a long-term strategic relationship with Microsoft to accelerate the commercialisation of self-driving vehicles.

The companies will combine software and hardware engineering, cloud computing, manufacturing and 'partner ecosystem' to "transform transportation to create a safer, cleaner and more accessible world for everyone", they said in a joint statement.

"Our mission to bring safer, better and more affordable transportation to everyone isn't just a tech race – it's also a trust race," said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann. "Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratisation of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialise our fleet of self driving, all electric, shared vehicles."

To unlock the potential of cloud computing for self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Azure, Microsoft's cloud and edge computing platform, to commercialise its autonomous vehicle products at scale. Microsoft, as Cruise's preferred cloud provider, will also, in turn, tap into Cruise's deep industry expertise to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transport companies worldwide through continued investment in Azure.

Microsoft will join General Motors, Honda and institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of around US$2bn in Cruise, bringing the post-money valuation of Cruise to $30bn.

"Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. "As Cruise and GM's preferred cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream."

GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra said: "Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialisation of Cruise's all electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realise even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth."

GM also will work with Microsoft as its preferred public cloud provider to accelerate digitisation, including collaboration, storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. GM will explore opportunities with Microsoft to streamline operations across digital supply chains, foster productivity and bring new mobility services to customers faster.