Toyota is developing a new telematics system. But rather than going it alone with its own standard, the Japanese auto giant is teaming up with Ford and its Livio division to base its new system on the SmartDeviceLink (SDL) platform. The resulting technology is debuting this week at CES in Las Vegas.

SDL is described as an open-source platform that allows occupants to operate smartphone apps through the vehicle's infotainment panel and through voice recognition. Instead of conforming to an interface like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, SDL apps can be tailored to match the automaker's interface. The more automakers adopt the standard, the more vehicles will be open to using SDL apps.

The collaboration has been years in the making. As far back as 2011, the two automakers set about collaborating on a new standard for vehicle telematics. Ford then acquired Livio – the software company responsible for SmartDeviceLink – in 2013. And just this past June, Toyota began exploring using the Livio system in its vehicles. With that exploratory phase now complete, Toyota is now moving ahead in using SDL as its platform for in-car connectivity. Toyota and Ford are hoping the standard catches on across the industry.

This isn't the first time we're seeing competing automakers partnering to adopt and promote a common infotainment platform, following the acquisition of Nokia's HERE mapping system by Audi, BMW, and Daimler. Nor is it the first time we're seeing Toyota take an alternative approach to the Apple and Google platforms rapidly spreading across the industry. This past August, the automaker announced it had selected Telenav's Scout GPS Link system instead of the native maps apps in CarPlay or Android Auto. However, as Toyota technology spokesman John Hanson confirmed to Autoblog, the "Telenav Navi app will work with Toyota HU regardless of SDL adoption."
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Toyota to Commercialize New Telematics System Using SmartDeviceLink
Agreement with Ford and Livio To Establish Industry Development and Operation Framework to Deploy SDL

Las Vegas, NV, January 4, 2016―Toyota Motor Corporation has entered into an agreement with Ford and Livio to establish an industry development and operation framework to deploy Livio's SmartDeviceLink (SDL). Other automakers and app developers are welcome to join this collaboration. Toyota will also commercialize a telematics system using SDL.

SDL is an open source platform for smartphone apps and car connectivity where customers can use apps in their vehicle through voice recognition function and operation panel.

Shigeki Terashi, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, said: "Developing a safer and more secure in-car smartphone connectivity service which better matches individual vehicle features is exactly the value and advantage an automaker can offer customers. We expect that many companies share our view and will participate in the industry SDL collaboration."

In August 2011, Toyota and Ford entered a collaboration agreement for next generation in-car telematics system standardization. In June 2015, Toyota entered into an agreement with Ford and Livio to explore SDL introduction to its vehicles. Toyota's investigation and consideration of SDL has been completed successfully, and the company found SDL suitable for its in-car app connectivity.

With SDL, automakers can offer smartphone apps which match each company's in-car system characteristics and interface. This enables customers to use apps they want more safely and comfortably.

At the same time, if more automakers apply SDL, app developers can develop apps which are compatible with multiple automakers' telematics systems at one time, meaning more apps available to customers in a shorter development time.

At 2016 CES, Toyota will demonstrate an SDL integration in the Livio exhibit, LVCC – North from January 6th through the 9th. On Wednesday, January 6, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Ken-ichi Murata, General Manager of Toyota BR Connected Strategy and Planning, will appear at the SDL Summit. Murata and officials from Ford, Livio and others will deliver remarks followed by a Q+A session.

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