Toyota To Build Cloud-based Telematics System

Looking toward the future, Toyota will collaborate with Microsoft to build a cloud-based telematic system for its cars by 2015.

Toyota plans to develop and deploy telematics applications on the Windows Azure platform, which includes Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure. This, said both companies in separate press releases, will handle GPS systems, energy management and other multimedia technologies. Microsoft is currently working with Ford with its Bluetooth-based Sync entertainment system. Toyota, though, is looking to go beyond entertainment, and is working with Microsoft to find ways to enable consumers to access the electrical smart grid as well.

Initially only Toyota's 2012 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will use the new telematic system, but this will expand to other lines in the future.

Toyota foresees a future where consumers will rely upon more sophisticated telematics services for achieving efficient energy management. With smart meters in the home, consumers will be able to control the energy needs of specific appliances. Toyota says its consumers, using mobile devices connected to a cloud database, will be able to actively schedule heavy-duty activities, such as recharging the car, during the hours of the day when energy is plentiful and inexpensive.

From the Toyota Press Release

As part of its smart-grid activities, aimed at achieving a low-carbon society through efficient energy use, [Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC)] is conducting trials in Japan of its Toyota Smart Center pilot program, which plans to link people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption. TMC 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.

There are no security specifics mentioned in either press release. Windows Azure uses SSL-encryption for data in motion and, according to Microsoft, a full range of encryption, hashing, and key management functionality for data at rest. However, security researchers have demonstrated that smart grid smart meters, such those being installed within US homes, do not always have adequate security. And researchers recently demonstrated how a compromised music file exploited the entertainment system to attack a car's electronics.