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Toyota and Microsoft Develop Services to "Humanize the Driving Experience"

When was the last time you felt the need to "humanize" your driving experience? Probably never, but rest assured, with things going in the direction they're going and maintaining the same speed, it won't be long until you feel alienated by all the technology around you.
Toyota ME.WE Concept 1 photo
Photo: Toyota
At least that's what Toyota seems to be thinking, and it's also got software and technology giant Microsoft on board. The two companies have been working together since 2011, but their collaboration will gain some extra speed shortly thanks to a $5.5 million investment the Japanese manufacturer will be making in a new venture called Toyota Connected that will be based in Plano, Texas.

With technology becoming an increasingly important presence in our cars, Toyota feels it would be better if its products didn't come across as soulless machines and developed a stronger bond with their owners. Zack Hicks, the man who will be in charge of Toyota Connected, says that this new division "will help free our customers from the tyranny of technology."

If this weren't coming from the world's biggest carmaker that also happens to be working together with Microsoft, we'd be tempted to interpret the statement in an entirely different way. It's almost as if Toyota were saying "technology is bad, let's go back to using sticks and stones." In fact, though, the message is completely different.

Bloomberg reports that "Toyota plans to use data science through Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology to develop services that 'help to humanize the driving experience.'" What that basically means is that the AI that will inevitably be present in our future cars won't just use its artificial synapses for driving the car, but will also act as a proactive personal assistant. It'll learn your schedule and your habits and will take them into account every time you ask something of your car's infotainment system. For instance, if it's Tuesday evening and you want to go to a restaurant, the car will know it's your meat-free day and will automatically recommend vegetarian places.

It'll book parking in advance, make reservations for a smoking room at the hotel because it knows you like to kill yourself slowly and will send a lovely message to your mother-in-law whenever you punch her address in the sat-nav because it knows you'll get sick if you try to do it yourself. The car will become your robotic friend on wheels, but if Toyota has its way, it'll be a "humanized" robot. On wheels.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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