Toyota and Microsoft plan to participate in a $12 million investment in Toyota Media Service Co., a TMC subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers. They plan to implement telematics
applications using Windows Azure platform technology, which includes Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure, starting with TMC’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012.
Telematics refers to automobile systems that integrate computing, wireless communications, and GPS for sending and receiving information that provide a variety of emergency and navigational services to motorists. Telematics devices allow a driver to interact with his vehicle in his own voice to browse the Internet, send and receive e-mails, receive live traffic updates, listen to satellite radio, and perform various other activities. In emergency situations the telematics system sends a message to an operator. Within seconds, after confirming the safety of the passengers, the operator sends help. The GPS unit tells the operator where to send the police and ambulance. The best part is that all these things can be done hands-free.
Toyota’s goal is to have a complete global cloud platform positioned by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services to Toyota automotive customers around the world. Trials are being conducted in Japan through the Toyota Smart Center pilot program, with plans to link people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption. Toyota believes that as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will rely more on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota has stated that the new partnership between Microsoft and Toyota is an important step in developing greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world to develop a new link between vehicles, people and smart center energy-management systems.