Weekly Brief: Toyota creates new company for autonomous tech with $1Bn pledge

In this week’s Brief: Toyota, Toyota Research Institute, Stanford University, MIT, Octo Telematics, Daimler, WirelessCar, Sygic, Parkopedia, Zubie, Verizon, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DocuSign andVisa.

So much for taking a backseat on the driverless car – Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker and erstwhile autonomous tech sceptic, has created a new company devoted to the self-driving car and autonomous technologies. The initial investment? A colossal $1Bn over five years. Toyota Research Institute will be headquartered in Silicon Valley, within shouting distance of Stanford University, with a second office near MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Toyota has already pledged $50M to set up joint research centres on autonomous tech with Stanford and MIT but TRI will pursue R&D of its own. A particular focus will be increasing awareness of autonomous technologies so that they can move out of controlled environments into the chaos of everyday life.

In other news, it was a big week on the fleet front, as Octo Telematics, the largest usage-based insurer on the planet, partnered up with the godfather of telematics services, GM OnStar. OnStar will integrate Octo technology for advanced UBI scoring services for insurance carriers and a full fleet management solution for fleet and leasing companies throughout Europe. New services available come mid-2016.

Daimler beefed up its fleet management services through a new partnership with Wireless Car. Starting in 2016, Daimler will utilize WirelessCar platform services to provide location and vehicle follow up and extensive reporting through portals and mobile apps. The goal is to offer complete fleet services as well as a la carte offerings for a highly adjustable service offering portfolio.

Sygic, the most installed offline navigation app on the planet (100M users at last count), made Parkopedia its exclusive parking provider. Starting December 2015, Sygic will integrate Parkopedia’s off-street parking database of 150,000 parking facilities and will enable users to book and pay for parking through the app.

Zubie’s gone WiFi. The popular plug-in telematics device, which gives real-time info around driver safety, vehicle condition, maintenance issues and fuel costs, teamed up with Verizon’s 4G LTE network for mobile hotspot connectivity. The hotspot turns on automatically with the car and can connect up to 10 devices; payment is processed through users’ Verizon Wireless accounts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) added automatic emergency braking (AEB) as a recommended technology in its 5-star rating system starting in 2018. It would seem like a no-brainer, given what a boon crash-avoidance technologies like AEB can be for public safety. NHTSA video here.

That’s not to say the systems aren’t without their faults. Toyota recalled 31,000 Avalons and Lexus saloon cars because of faulty pre-collision systems (PCS) that misconstrued steel joints and plates in roadways for dangerous objects. Unexpected and unnecessary braking ensued, thus endangering the drivers and other cars behind them. Toyota plans to disable the PCS function for the time being on the recalled vehicles.

Finally, buying a car is exciting, momentous and most of all… tedious and time-consuming. The paperwork. The applications for insurance and financing. DocuSign and Visa are teaming up to change all of that on the connected car of the future. Their new proof-of-concept allows buyers to configure the lease, insurance and other everyday purchases like parking and tolls, DocuSign it, pay via Visa, and drive off, all within a couple taps on the dashboard. This video shows the potential.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *