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Toyota's data-focused company aims to make cars smarter

Engadget Engadget 4/04/2016 Billy Steele
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A few weeks ago, Ford announced its Smart Mobility subsidiary that will focus on autonomous vehicles, in-car tech and more. Today, Toyota made a similar move with Toyota Connected, Inc. The new data-driven arm has a pretty vague mission for now, described as "a data science hub for Toyota's global operations." What does that mean exactly? Well, Toyota Connected will expand the company's partnership with Microsoft to leverage Azure cloud tech to make the connected driving experience smarter. To put it another way, the automaker plans to develop "predictive, contextual, and intuitive services" that aim to making the technology you use while driving less intrusive.

In addition to those new services, Toyota's new company will also provide data analytics to other companies and governments to boost their own product development. On top of its own in-car projects, the Texas-based subsidiary will also tackle home/IoT connectivity, safety features, smart city integration and more. Again, details are pretty scarce, but Toyota did offer a few broad examples of what to expect. Toyota Connected will be tasked with things like developing a navigation system that learns your habits, auto insurance pricing that responds to your driving patterns and connected vehicle systems that share info on road conditions and traffic in real time.

"Toyota Connected will help free our customers from the tyranny of technology," said Zack Hicks, newly appointed CEO of Toyota Connected. "It will make lives easier and help us to return to our humanity."

Toyota also made big moves in the last few months in regards to autonomous vehicles and robotics as the future of driving continues to shift. While the company likely already has some items in the works, it will still have to catch up to other automakers in the services department. Ford, as an example, already has GoPass, GoDrive and FordPass to tackle parking, ride sharing, maintenance and more.

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