Microsoft Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) have announced their partnership and plan to build a global platform for TMC’s next-generation telematics services based on the Windows Azure platform. So what is telematics? Telematics is the fusion of telecommunications and information technologies in vehicles. As we may be familiar, it can encompass GPS systems, energy management, and other multi-media technologies.
Both companies have pledged a total of 1 billion yen (approximately $12 million) in investment in TMC’s subsidiary, Toyota Media Service Co., which offers digital information services to Toyota automotive consumers. The goal is to develop and deploy telematics applications firstly for TMC’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. TMC hopes to establish a complete global cloud-based system by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services for Toyota automotive customers around the world.
The new technology will be tested as part of the Toyota Smart Center program that is currently running in Japan. The program links people to their cars and homes with the goal for more integrated control of energy consumption. Toyota strongly believes that such smart-grid systems can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent. As electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will rely more on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management.
Microsoft has had a long history of delivering platforms and services to the automotive market. This deal moves the software giant further into the automotive business having previously delivered such systems as in-car infotainment systems built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, in-car mapping services with Bing and the Microsoft Tellme voice application, and many other consumer solutions.
“Today’s announcement of our partnership with TMC is a great example of how we continue to invest in the automotive industry and of our commitment to power the services that are important to consumers,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “It further validates the power of the cloud, as the Windows Azure platform will provide the enterprise-grade, scalable platform that TMC needs to deliver telematics in its automobiles worldwide.”
“This new partnership between Microsoft and Toyota is an important step in developing
greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world. Creating these more efficient, more environmentally advanced products will be our contribution to society,” said Akio Toyoda, president of TMC. “To achieve this, it is important to develop a new link between vehicles, people and smart center energy-management systems.”