Toyota wants to 'humanise' driving in Microsoft partnership

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Craig Dingle)

Automotive giant Toyota is teaming-up with software giant Microsoft in a bid to 'humanise' the driving experience through a new connected vehicle technology venture. Headed by Zack Hicks, CIO and Vice President at Toyota Motors North America, the carmaker wants to consolidate its vast global research into one place for the advancement of related technologies. 

Research will be conducted in Plano, Texas after Hicks and his team received an initial investment of $5.5 million. Toyota is specifically looking at Microsoft's powerful Azure cloud technology for its venture, employing data science to help free their customers "from the tyranny of technology."

An infotainment system, which could be integrated with older vehicles as well as new, could be a more attractive proposition.

Toyota and Microsoft have collaborated on various projects since 2011, so it's little surprise the company decided Redmond was the best partner to help achieve their vision. Microsoft has a car platform called 'Windows Embedded Automotive' but it’s almost unheard of when compared to major competitors - it will be interesting to see if the partnership with Toyota will advance Microsoft's own efforts in the automotive space. 

Bloomberg reports “the new venture will study everything from cars that help each other analyze traffic patterns to user-based insurance pricing to connecting drivers with information and security services in their homes.” 

Providing an example of what innovations the partnership will enable, Toyota examples the use of heart rate data from the steering wheel to monitor health, or utilise destination information to pre-pay for parking before you arrive. 

With new devices and services arriving which give older cars the same level of connected car abilities that modern vehicles enjoy, it could be difficult to persuade consumers to purchase an entire new vehicle. An infotainment system, which could be integrated with older vehicles as well as new, could be a more attractive proposition. 

The research is just getting started and therefore we don't know what Toyota and Microsoft will come up with, but we'll be sure to report back once we hear more. 

How should Toyota harness Microsoft's cloud to improve driving? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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