Toyota platform will beam drive data to phones, recreate drives on Gran Turismo

The car maker will roll out a new device that tracks location as well as gas pedal, brake, and gear shift use in real time

Toyota is developing a new device for its cars that will collect detailed data on driving such as gas pedal use, brake presses, and gear shifts for viewing on a smartphone app or recreating drives virtually on the PlayStation game Gran Turismo.

The system is still in early development and is slated for initial release on a single sports car late next year in Japan, though Toyota hopes to release it worldwide after that, according to spokesman Dion Corbett. It collects data from the dozens of onboard computer systems, known as electronic control units, or ECUs, that run everything from the engine to the air conditioner in a modern car, then sends it via Bluetooth to a smartphone or stores it on a USB memory stick for future review or sharing.

"Other people will be able to look at your performance and say, 'You took the corner too early, you should have taken this kind of line on that course,'" Corbett said.

The company said it will eventually open the platform up to third-party software developers, allowing them to create apps around real-time driving data obtained from its cars. Such data has long been available to mechanics and technicians using specialized equipment, but Toyota is opening it up to everyday drivers using the Bluetooth and USB interfaces.

Toyota is working on functionality that will allow driving data recorded on major Japanese racing tracks such as its own Fuji Speedway to be imported into Gran Turismo and recreated virtually in the game. Private drivers can pay for driving time on many such tracks.

Initially the device, called the CAN-Gateway ECU, or Controller Area Network-Gateway Electronic Control Unit, will be tested by race car drivers early next year, then released for initial use with Toyota's "86" sports car toward the end of the year. All modern vehicles use ECUs that communicate over a central CAN, so expanding the system to other vehicles is not a big technical challenge.

Dion said that while other car companies have announced similar systems, Toyota's is the first that can log data to USB memory and collect GPS and gyro input.

The device was developed by Toyota together with Denso, one of the carmaker's group companies and a major global manufacturer of automotive components.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service

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