Microsoft and Baidu announced a partnership to take the technical development and adoption of autonomous driving worldwide.

As a member of the Apollo alliance, Microsoft will provide global scale for the platform outside China with its Azure cloud.

Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president, Microsoft, said: "Today's vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data. By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning, and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer."

According to McKinsey, up to 15% of new cars sold in 2030 will be fully autonomous. Announced by Baidu in April this year, Apollo is open and is claimed to provide a comprehensive, secure and reliable platform which supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle. The project consists of cloud services, an open software stack, and reference hardware and vehicle platforms. Fifty partners from a wide range of sectors have joined the alliance, including global navigation and mapping service provider TomTom, tier-one suppliers Bosch and Continental, and Asia's ride-hailing platform Grab.

"Our goal with Apollo is to provide an open and powerful platform to the automotive industry to further the goal of autonomous vehicles," said Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu. "By using Azure, our partners outside of China will have access to a trustworthy and secure public cloud, enabling them to focus on innovating instead of building their own cloud-based infrastructure."

Automakers including BMW, Ford, Renault-Nissan, Toyota and Volvo are all using or have announced plans to adopt Microsoft's intelligent cloud technology to help with services like driver assist, predictive maintenance and voice controlled media.

Baidu is the top Chinese language internet search provider.