Microsoft and Toyota have extended a five-year partnership to develop connected car services that will expand the carmaker’s data services development.
Toyota will create a data science hub in Texas, dubbed Toyota Connected, in which Microsoft will hold a five per cent stake, to explore how data can deliver information-based services to drivers, business car fleets and vehicle dealers.
The new services will be supported by Microsoft’s Azure platform, and will use connected vehicle networks to share information on traffic and weather conditions.
Toyota will also explore how data specific to individual drivers, such as heartbeat and respiration rates while behind the wheel, could be used to provide tailored information with an emphasis on safety.
Zack Hicks, president and chief executive of Toyota Connected, explained that the company wants to deliver information services that aid drivers without overwhelming them with too much data.
“We’ll be able to bring you services that make your life easier and push the technology into the background and give you those things you really want, which isn’t a blaring screen. It’s really letting people know that you’re running late for a meeting,” he said.
Hicks noted that the partnership with Microsoft is an essential part of Toyota’s car technology future as the firm cannot deliver complex data services on its own.
Driving to the cloud
Toyota in not alone in basing connected car services on Microsoft Azure, and is joined by Ford and BMW AG.
Ford uses Azure to support the rollout of the firm's latest Sync 3 infotainment platform. Don Butler, executive director of connected vehicles at Ford, told V3 that cloud services are a way to future proof connected car technology.
"I can't predict what the future is going to be, which is why I'm trying to put as much of it as I can in the cloud," he said.
"Cloud will enable us to dynamically adjust and adapt the capability of Sync in the vehicle depending on the current driving conditions or experience.”
Many companies use cloud platforms to replace on-premise IT infrastructure with more flexible and easy-to-maintain services.
But the automotive industry is using the cloud to create and deliver new and innovative services and as a tool for digital transformation rather than just a foundation for existing IT systems.
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