The alliance might be crucial. Cruise is increasingly shifting its attention to autonomy as a service with projects like its Origin electric shuttle, and those will depend heavily on the cloud to connect to both each other and passengers. The money, meanwhile, could help Cruise both weather the pandemic and better compete with rivals like Waymo.
It’s not as vital for Microsoft. However, this does give the company a foothold in driverless transportation as well as a high-profile customer. It might easily justify the expense for both the prestige as well as shutting out Google and other competitors.