Motor racing teams rely on the data fed back to them from telemetric sensors strategically located throughout their finely tuned vehicles. And Toyota feels this is something that would be valued in the family car.
According to Toyota 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.
Toyota believes in the future the platform will be opened up to third-party software developers, allowing them to create apps around real-time driving data obtained from its cars. Unlike the professional racing team’s sophisticated and specialised equipment, the Toyota offering will be open to drivers using the Bluetooth and USB interfaces.
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.
Taking this one step further, Toyota is working to allow the captured data to be imported into the PlayStation 3 exclusive video game Gran Turismo. This would allow budding amateur racers with private access to tracks such as Japan’s Fuji Speedway to get some real-life data into their virtual racing.