By on May 29, 2013


Toyota announced today what it calls the “Big Data Traffic Information Service,” a giant mashup of data harvested from currently 3.3 million of telematics users in Japan, and 700,000 Toyota customers equipped with a Digital Communication Module (DCM), a gizmo that constantly monitors and transmits vehicle data.  Combined with other telematics data, the harvest powers navigation and information services. Unlike other systems, Toyota’s on-line platform can also be used by local governments and businesses.

Being a Japanese system, the Big Data service is heavy on disaster management and relief functions. As long as the cellphone data network has not been wiped out, the system provides routes to and locations of evacuation sites, even the possible heights of a tsunami, should one strike.  The system can communicate with on-board systems, smartphones, tablets etc. The system is relatively low-cost. An annual subscription by users costs $25. Disaster information is free of charge. Commercial users can book the platform and 100,000 transactions for $2,000 per month.

A system that uses cars as data collection sensors, or “T-Probes” as they are called here, is a natural for Toyota in Japan, where it enjoys a 40 percent market share. This makes for fine-grained data collection, even in locations off the beaten path. From ABS activations for instance, the system deduces that the road is slippery. From the speed of individual T-Probe cars, the system instantly knows the location of traffic jams or slow-moving traffic. It even knows your individual speed, “but we won’t sell that data to the police,”  Hiroyuki Yamada, General Manager of the E-Toyota Division, promised to me today. Auto-supplied data is augmented by crowd-sourced information. Should I find a big obstacle on the road that was fallen off a truck, I can drop a “stuff on street” icon on the map and warn people behind me, a function that should make the system popular with 4chan.

The cloud-based system has been developed together with Microsoft, using MSFT’s Azure platform, a joint venture that was announced two years ago.

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13 Comments on “Toyota Bets Big On Big Data...”

  • avatar

    “but we won’t sell that data to the police,” yeah maybe,but with that type of info available it will only be a matter of time when the cops WILL have access to that data.We don’t need no steenkin big brother,jmho.

  • avatar

    Great, more ways for cops to issue tickets without leaving the krispy kreme

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, I wonder when this will show up in the US? and will this crazy judge ( ) rule that as long as your car is on, you have no reasonable right to privacy.

      Its a cool idea but all its going to take is one government toady to connect a few dots and figure out another way to increase the revenue stream. Especially in a place like my home state of Va where they freely admit a lot of areas would go bust if it wasn’t for the money collected from tickets.

  • avatar

    And more ways for the insurance companies to charge more…

  • avatar

    Gotta find a chemist to work with so I can market the first Faraday cage clearcoat. Unless the military already has one.

  • avatar

    Sounds kind of like Google Traffic.

    IMO, the car makers should concentrate on the greasy bits, and leave the software development to groups like Apple and Google that are good at it.

    They should throw a nice touchscreen in the dash, put in some decent speakers and steering wheel controls, put a USB plug in the glovebox and publish an interface to the whole system so that third party apps can be used effectively with the system.

    Bonus points if several of the major automakers could agree on a standard, and then make it available to anyone else that wanted to use it.

  • avatar

    go to china. No Toys for me.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    This is OnStar on steroids.

    1984 is finally upon us. What George Orwell did not foresee, was that the user would have to pay for the privilege of being followed and monitored

  • avatar

    I am surprised that many would pay up for this.

  • avatar

    Facebook and Google are also trying to acquire Waze at over $1 billion valuation.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    I have no desire for tracking devices in my car. Japan doesn’t have a vast array of traffic cameras to find this information?

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