Microsoft has strategically entered into a deal to invest in on-demand services and ride-hailing company, Grab. As part of the deal, Microsoft will also collaborate with the company on a number of AI and big data projects. As per the agreement, Grab will deploy Microsoft Azure as its first preference cloud platform. Although the companies have confirmed on the deal, financial details of the agreement were not disclosed by both the parties.

Through the collaboration, Grab intends to make full use of Microsoft’s product to enhance its digital platform. The digital platform by Grab is one of the crucial business areas that the company is focusing on. It already has a payment service and food delivery services in its portfolio.

Peggy Johnson, executive vice president at Microsoft, said that collaboration with Grab will allow Microsoft to come with innovative ideas to support the booming industry and region.

The companies revealed that together they will also focus on various deep technology projects that are extremely innovative. The projects may include the new measures of authentication such as facial recognition having AI built-in (for both customers and drivers who opts for it) to substitute the orthodox method of checking ID.

Ming Maa, president of Grab (left), with Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Microsoft.

Additionally, the companies plan to investigate benefits of machine learning, natural language processing, and AI in Grab’s platform such as fraud detection, map creation and the ability for visitors to take a picture of their recent location and translate into a permanent address for the driver.

Microsoft and Grab are already in a loose connection of sorts through Toyota. Toyota was recently reported of investing $1 billion into Grab (as well as a yet another $1 billion from various investors). Toyota is alleged to have collaborated with Microsoft, a few years back, on certain projects the details of which remain undisclosed. Last year, Microsoft had a deal with Toyota to license its patents for Toyota’s internet-connected cars. The deal was sought to be huge in terms of its effects. It also indicated Microsoft’s willingness to expand its horizon to services related to transportation.

In April 2016, Toyota and Microsoft entered a deal for a data analytics company named Toyota Connect. The main objective to form this company was to bring various internet-connected services to cars. The newly formed company has deployed Microsoft Azure to evaluate and gather data as well as helps in the development of new products for businesses with car fleets, drivers, and dealers.

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service offered by the tech company. The service is designed to help build, test, deploy, and manage applications and services through the company’s global network of data centers. The service was launched in 2010 and since then it has been deployed by a number of companies. Some of the publicly known Azure platform customers include Apple iCloud, eBay, Samsung, Mazda, Boeing, Xerox, and General Dynamics. The recent deal has expanded the horizon of the Azure on the global platform.