Just as golfers might customize their clubs to correct a slice, Toyota is toying with a new way to personalize vehicle software updates to improve the way people drive.
The idea is being considered as part of a new service being offered through Kinto, Toyota Motor Corp.'s vehicle subscription program in Japan. The concept was born from motorsports, where racing teams make countless on-the-fly tweaks to a car's steering, braking and acceleration, said Operating Officer Koji Sato, who also is president of Toyota's Gazoo Racing motorsports arm.
The service foreshadows the software-first approach the world's largest automaker is pursuing on next-generation vehicles. The idea is to develop an automotive operating system and build the car around it, thereby allowing cars to be continually updated with the latest advances. Toyota bills it as delivering "cars that evolve in tune with people."
By analyzing data collected from drivers, Toyota engineers and Gazoo Racing personnel can develop personalized enhancements for individual driving habits, Toyota said.
Kinto President Shinya Kodera said he tested the personalized approach on a drive around Nagoya with two steering settings, heavy and light. Kodera thought he preferred the steering with the lighter touch. But the drive data analysis actually recommended the heavier steering for him because it required less arm and shoulder movement and induced less fatigue.
Initially, such personalized software updates might be done manually. But once it is extended to enough models and enough data is collected, the adjustments could be made through artificial intelligence, Kodera said.
"There are many golfers who personalize their drivers to their own taste," Sato said. "It's the same with cars. For example, drivers might want the steering a little heavier or the brakes just so. By matching driving styles, person by person, we can make safe and reliable cars."