Toyota and Microsoft Team Up to Bring Cloud Computing On the Road

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Yesterday afternoon, Toyota and Microsoft announced a new $12 million partnership that aims to bring cloud computing on the road. This team-up will grant the industry-leading automaker’s vehicles access to streaming music, telecommunications information, GPS and energy mangement on the go.

According to Wired, the initiative will be based on Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform, thus eliminating the need for excessive hardware and software inside a given vehicle.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s president, Akio Toyoda, announced during the teleconference:

“Together, utilizing Windows Azure and Microsoft’s vast information infrastructure, we will boost the value of automobiles by making them ‘information terminals,’ moving beyond today’s GPS navigation and wireless safety communications, while at the same time enhancing driver and traffic safety.”

The initiative could make its presence felt as early as next year, as Toyota rolls out its new line of electric and plug-in hybrids like the new RAV4 EV or a plug-in version of its industry-leading Prius.

Toyota joining forces with Microsoft is indicative of the automobile industry’s likely future. Reports came out earlier last year that Chevy and Google were in talks to beef up the American carmaker’s OnStar system, and we’ll likely see more automotive/tech partnerships in the near future.

The ramifications of digital connectivity on the road will be interesting to watch unfold, one of which will be how access to streaming music (like Pandora) will affect FM radio stations that rely heavily on advertising during prime traffic hours.

More on TIME.com:

James Cameron Gives Avatar Cast a Prius for Christmas

Yes, Hackers Can Seize Control of Your Car

The 10 Coolest Sci-Fi Cars

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