With the reveal of its new Entune system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota is ready to move onto the next generation of in-car technology. The Japanese automaker has teamed up with Microsoft to develop a new content delivery network based on cloud computing.
The new system will be built on Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform, which stores data remotely — in “the cloud” — and allows users to access their information from any location. Toyota is hoping to have a global cloud platform by 2015 with which to provide vehicle information and in-car entertainment to Toyota owners.
This is not a new entertainment system, however. The cloud-based technology will only be used to provide content and usage information to and from the car to computers and mobile devices. The first vehicle to receive the new technology will be the Prius plug-in hybrid, when it goes on sale next year. Following the Prius PHEV the RAV4 EV and the iQ-based EV city car will also get the new tech. With the application of the cloud computing to the electric vehicles, Toyota and drivers will be able to see what kind of battery usage and mileage the cars are getting in real-time.
Toyota has not decided yet if it will combine the cloud-based distribution network with its recently announced Entune in-car infotainment system. Similar to Ford’s Sync, Entune fully integrates a driver’s mobile phone, streaming audio, web searches, and navigation into the car.
The new cloud computing being developed will also be used by Toyota as part of its Smart Center trials in Japan, where it is linking people, cars, and homes for an integrated control and monitoring of energy consumption.
Microsoft and Toyota will invest approximately $12 million into the joint venture of Toyota Media Service Company to develop the cloud-to-car network.