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​Toyota adding cellular data connections to 'a broader range' of vehicles by 2017

Toyota announced that it will be adding data connectivity to more of its cars by 2017 and building a Toyota Big Data Center to process all of the new info.

This story is part of CES 2016. Our editors bring you complete CES 2016 coverage and scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.

Toyota announced its next-generation connected vehicle framework at CES 2016 in Las Vegas today, which will be based around a new data communication module installed in "a broader range" of its vehicles starting in 2017 and backed up by a new Toyota Big Data Center to manage it all.

Today, Toyota's Entune infotainment primarily relies on drivers to connect their smartphones and utilize its data connection for any connected services or emergency notifications. So if you've neglected to pair your smartphone for whatever reason and are in an accident, you may be on your own.

By 2017 in the US, vehicles equipped with Toyota's Data Communications Modules (DCM) will grant vehicles an always-on connection to cellular telecommunications networks, transmitting data for services and automatically alerting nearby emergency services in the event of an airbag deployment.

To support this larger rollout of connected vehicles, Toyota will be creating a Toyota Big Data Center (TBDC) in the Toyota Smart Center, which will analyze and process the influx of data. TBDC will also be responsible for information security and privacy controls.

In addition to its own data processing, the automaker also hopes to develop a globally uniform DCM, standardizing the architecture across regions and countries by 2019, which will streamline manufacturing and adoption and cut down on development costs.

Today, many of Toyota's premium and luxury competitors are already installing always-on 4G LTE connections in their cars, so it will be nice to see Toyota catch up. However, Toyota's release didn't specify what cellular standard would be used. (Presumably, we'll see a variety of standards globally until the aforementioned standardization rolls out.)

"A broader range" means that at least some Toyota cars will continue to use the smartphone as the bridge to connectivity, and the automaker doesn't want those drivers to miss the benefits of its new connected network. So, Toyota is also working with UIEvolution to develop a smartphone app that allows those drivers to safely and securely transmit and access services and emergency notifications through the TBDC. A timeline for this middleware has not been given.