Toyota teams with Microsoft

Toyota Motor Corp. is collaborating with Microsoft Corp. to consolidate much of the automaker’s global research in telematics, data analytics and network security services as the auto industry expands connected-vehicle technologies. Toyota announced an enhanced relationship with Microsoft aimed at delivering “connected car” services to drivers in ways they probably never could have imagined. The Toyota Connected venture will be headed by Zack Hicks, chief information officer at Toyota Motor North America, and will be based in Plano, Texas. The initial investment will be $5.5 million, the automaker said. Read more about this and be prepared to use online auto insurance quotes for the future cars that will be soon announced.

toyotaToyota plans to use data science through Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology to develop services that “help to humanize the driving experience,”’ according to a statement. “Toyota Connected will help free our customers from the tyranny of technology,”’ Hicks said in the statement.

For instance, artificial-intelligence features could be added to cars that allow them to know where the car is going and offer services drivers might want along the way. Toyota Connected, as the partnership will be known, “will help free our customers from the tyranny of technology. It will make lives easier and help us to return to our humanity,” said Zack Hicks.

The services offered can be tailored to individual customers. “We don’t want to dump everything on everyone,” said Sandy Lobenstein, executive vice president of Toyota Connected. “The whole is idea is getting to know our customers better.”

Road information can be delivered to drivers based on driving patterns — knowing the routes they usually take. Auto insurance could be priced more accurately because the system could report on a driver’s actual miles and routes traveled.

The effort comes amid a broader push by the world’s largest automaker to accelerate its research into artificial intelligence and robotics. In January, Toyota began a $1 billion, five-year investment in Toyota Research Institute Inc., which is setting up centers near Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leading the effort is Gill Pratt, the former top robotics engineer for the U.S. military.

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