Microsoft teams up with Toyota for Connected drive

Is Microsoft finally getting into the race to build an autonomous car?

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For sometime now Microsoft’s plans for the connected drive and autonomous vehicle market was the topic of intense speculation. Microsoft’s interests in the automotive industry just got a major boost with Toyota announcing the launch of a new entity – Toyota Connected, which will use the tech giants cloud computing platform.

Toyota Connected + Microsoft Azure

The new company – Toyota Connected is supposed to serve as the data science hub with the main focus being (well, guess the name of the company says it all anyway) – connected cars. Toyota’s plans to get into connected drive is no surprise considering the automaker announced its plans to get into the HD mapping late last year (Related: Toyota enters map making business), but the announcement that will tie up with Microsoft is more interesting. 

“Toyota Connected 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, Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Connected and Chief Information Officer at Toyota Motor North America.  “From telematics services that learn from your habits and preferences, to use-based insurance pricing models that respond to actual driving patterns, to connected vehicle networks that can share road condition and traffic information, our goal is to deliver services that make lives easier.” – Toyota Press Release

Microsoft finally joins the race to build autonomous cars? 

Toyota connected will use Microsoft’s Azure as cloud computing platform for all its needs but does this mean that Microsoft is joining the race to build the autonomous car? We can’t be sure at this stage as Microsoft could well position itself as a cloud computing platform for autonomous driving instead of actually getting its hands dirty by trying to build a car from the scratch but one never really knows.

With Google and Apple already battling it out to gain control of our entertainment systems in the car, Microsoft could well opt to side step the competition by helping car makers build their own solution using its cloud computing platform.

But then things aren’t yet crystal clear – The company is rumoured to be interested in investing in HERE but nothing has materialised out of that just yet (Related: Microsoft and Amazon interested in investing in HERE). Guess we just have to wait and watch. In the end, things are just getting more interesting in the autonomous driving sector.