Kurt Verlin
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Toyota and Amazon Team Up to Build Cloud-Based Data Services

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Toyota and Amazon AWS logos
Photo: Toyota

Toyota and Amazon have teamed up to develop a cloud-based platform that will manage and monetize the data Toyota gathers from its global vehicle fleet.  

Amazon, you may be surprised to hear, is good at doing a lot of things besides delivering far too many packages to your doorstep. One of its biggest products is Amazon Web Services, which provides on-demand cloud computing services to just about anyone who asks.

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It’s used by startups, global enterprises, video game companies, and even Formula One. Now, Toyota is also working with AWS to help develop its own platform, aka Mobility Services Platform.

Toyota describes MSP as “an ecosystem” that will enable it to analyze data that can be used to develop vehicle services ranging from ride sharing to behavior-based insurance. It will play a key role in helping Toyota transition from a traditional car manufacturer to a CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric) mobility service provider.

“Connectivity drives all of the processes of development, production, sales and service in the automotive business,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota’s chief production officer. “Expanding our agreement with AWS to strengthen our vehicle data platform will be a major advantage for CASE activities within Toyota.”

For AWS, this new partnership is just one more step toward its expansion into the transportation business. Last month, it announced it would collaborate with Volkswagen to develop the German automaker’s own cloud-based marketplace for business customers. AWS has also previously partnered with Uber and Avis in addition to self-driving heavy truck startups and automotive suppliers.

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According to The Register, the alliance between Toyota and Amazon would involve exchanging driving telemetry for access to AWS’s enormous data storage, computational power, and consultation services. For example, AWS could analyze how fast you drive, how often the antilock brakes kick in, if you use the turn signal, and even how much you’re paying attention to the road once driver-facing cameras become more common.

What will all this data be used for? While it can be used to help dispatch emergency services more quickly, provide better customer support, and ping your dealership about preventative maintenance, it can also be used to lower your insurance premiums if you participate in Toyota’s insurance discount program.

It also serves as a reminder that companies are constantly and relentlessly gathering as much data about their customers as they can, something that earns them ludicrous amounts of money. And more often than not, there is no option for consumers to opt-out. I liked Andrew Yang’s idea: we should get data checks in the mail.