Microsoft sent an internal mail to select team members earlier this week informing them that it was shutting down its Airsim project. As part of its industrial metaverse vision, this project intended to deploy AI-based drone simulation software.
According to a blog post published by Microsoft in February 2023, the aim of the industrial metaverse is to transform the way humans and machines work with one another. With a Web3 twist, the technology, if established, will be able to assist industrial participants in solving problems proactively and efficiently.
The project from the software giant aimed to combine metaverse and AI. According to Business Insider, after Microsoft decided to stop the project, it informed the team working on it that they would be laid off. It is unknown, however, how many people were fired in total.
“We are proud of the impact this incubation created for our customers, and we will continue to invest in both Azure as the computing platform that powers the industrial metaverse, and a wide range of AI projects within the company,” the report quoted a Microsoft spokesperson as commenting on the development.
In addition to Airsim, Microsoft recently pulled back from the Bonsai project, which was targeted at developing AI-powered autonomous systems for industrial usage. Airsim and Bonsai were both components of Microsoft’s industrial metaverse effort. While Airsim was launched in 2017, Bonsai was an independent platform that Microsoft purchased in 2018.
Originally, Microsoft imagined these projects as a way to assist industrial app developers in pushing Microsoft’s Azure cloud services to compete with Amazon Web Services. The programmers were overseen by Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott, who is also in charge of Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI.
Scott apparently opted to transfer his focus from the industrial metaverse to AI for the time being when Microsoft’s connection with OpenAI began to grow. However, this is not the first time Microsoft has terminated projects connected to the development of industrial metaverse.
Microsoft shut down another similar project in February, laying off a team of 100 people at the time. The company had stated at the time that it preferred short-term projects that might create more revenue faster.