Toyota Bets Big On Big Data

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
toyota bets big on big data

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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2 of 13 comments
  • Praxis Praxis on May 29, 2013

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

  • Slow kills Slow kills on May 30, 2013

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

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.