Microsoft Shuts Industrial Metaverse Project Airsim to Focus on AI, Lays Off Team Members

Microsoft, earlier this week, sent an internal message to select team members notifying them that it was pulling down the shutters on its Airsim project. This industrial metaverse project was preparing to use AI-based drone simulation software to be part of its industrial metaverse vision. As per Microsoft’s blog published in February 2023, the concept of industrial metaverse is to change the way that people and machines collaborate with each other. The technology, once matured, would be able to help industrial players solve problems proactively and efficiently with a twist of Web3.

This project from the software giant was to bring together metaverse and AI. After Microsoft decided to shut the initiative, it informed the team working on the project that they were being laid off, said a report by Business Insider. It, however, remains unclear 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 has recently pulled support from the Bonsai project, that was aimed at building autonomous systems for industrial use using AI. Both Airsim and Bonsai together, were part of Microsoft’s industrial metaverse initiative. While Airsim was initiated in 2017, Bonsai was an independent platform that was acquired by Microsoft in 2018.

Microsoft originally saw these projects as means to help industrial app developers push Microsoft’s Azure cloud services to compete with the Amazon Web Services. The programmers were under the oversight of Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott, who also is responsible for Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI.

After Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI started to elevate, Scott reportedly decided to shift his focus from industrial metaverse to AI for now. This, however, is not the first time that Microsoft has shut down initiatives related to the development of industrial metaverse.

Back in February, Microsoft pulled down the curtains on another such programme and laid off a team of 100 people at the time. The company had said that time that it was looking to favour short-term projects that could generate more revenue quicker.

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