Toyota and Council Lead Partner Microsoft have worked together since 2011, but they're betting big on a new venture launched this week that will greatly expand their relationship: Toyota Connected. The car maker describes its new company as a "data science hub" for its worldwide operations that will speed up R&D for connected car products and services.
As Toyota said, "The launch of Toyota Connected builds on Toyota's global vision of a future of mobility that is clean, safe and convenient." The company will bring data science into its effort via Microsoft's Azure cloud platform to create a variety of services that will help "humanize" the driving experience while keeping the technology well in the background.
In other words, Toyota and Microsoft want to make driving easier. Zack Hicks, CEO of Toyota Connected and CIO for Toyota Motor North America explained: "Toyota Connected will help free our customers from the tyranny of technology. It will make our lives easier and help us to return our humanity. From telematics services that learn your habits and preferences, to use-based insurance pricing models that respond to actual driving patterns, to connected vehicle networks that can share road condition and traffic information, our goal is to deliver services that make lives easier."
How they'll do it
Microsoft and Toyota engineers will work side by side in the new Plano, Texas facility to come up with new connected car solutions and ways to make driving a more comfortable experience. And they'll be doing it with a variety of data analytics and mobile programs.
"Toyota is taking a bold step creating a company dedicated to bringing cloud intelligence into the driving experience," according to Kurt DelBene, executive VP for Corporate Strategy and Planning with Microsoft. " We look forward to working with Toyota Connected to harness the power of data to make driving more personal, intuitive and safe."
Several car models already have infotainment systems that provide drivers with a lot of information. But Toyota Connected is likely to one-up those services by tailoring theirs to individual customer wants and needs -- and being more specific about the information the services provide.
As an article in USA Today mentioned, those services could include anything from informing drivers of conveniently located restaurants based on their food preferences to medically-related sensors such as heartbeat monitors.
The company expects the first products to be available within a year.
Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.