As cloud technology becomes an integral part of life from controlling indoor temperature to coordinating between hospitals, several automobile companies are also beginning to hop on board.
Japanese car manufacturer Toyota (TM) is the most recent jump on—and in a big way.
The carmaker announced the creation of a separate, Plano, Texas-based company, Toyota Connected on Monday. The firm will collect and analyze data regarding customers’ driving habits using Microsoft (MSFT) Azure. The data will then be used to develop products along the lines of automatic break technology or accident warning systems by linking up data from multiple drivers.
Toyota already has some data services, but it currently only has the capability to operate a fraction of its cars that way. Toyota Connected represents an attempt for the company to “fully leverage” cloud computing, reported Nikkei’s Asian Review. The company has a market cap of $5 million.
“So in the future we’re going to have, not just vehicles talking to individuals, but vehicles that are talking to other vehicles who will also be talking to infrastructure,” Toyota Connected CEO Zack Hicks said in a video. “When you’re looking for a parking spot you don’t have to drive around the block five times…we can let you know where there’s an available spot.”
Toyota joins a group of automobile industry veterans who are going “smart.” Detroit-based Ford (F) also announced a partnership with Microsoft a few weeks earlier. The company said it planned to release a batch of cars later this year with connection to WiFi, allowing consumers to update the car’s entertainment, navigation, and communication systems regularly. That task originally required a USB stick.
According to Ford, cloud connected services will also allow for other upgrades, such as remotely checking whether an electric car is fully charged, or finding the car if a user forgot where he or she parked it.
Of course, Toyota Connected will be collecting information from consumers—which could run into some privacy concerns in the future. Toyota acknowledged that issue in the press release, saying that the company has “a fundamental commitment to personal privacy.”
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Microsoft has a 5% stake in the new company.