Toyota Motor (TM) added Line (LN) to its expanding roster of tech partners, which already includes Nvidia (NVDA) and Microsoft (MSFT), as automotive and technology companies continue to build alliances for the connected, self-driven cars of the future.
The automotive giant announced Thursday that it will explore integrating an advanced digital assistant from Line, the maker of a popular messaging app, into its internet-connected cars.
Line’s technology will integrate with Toyota’s own open-source standard that allows drivers to operate smartphone apps through voice recognition and the vehicle’s control panels. The goal is to commercialize the service by 2018, Toyota said.
Line, a popular service in Asia, describes its virtual digital assistant named Clova as a major step forward in the area. Line says Clova harnesses cloud-powered artificial intelligence and Big Data to recognize users’ voices, faces and actions; understand complicated questions; and make sophisticated recommendations.
U.S.-listed shares of Toyota were down 1.1% at 105.47 in midday trading on the stock market today, extending a two-week decline amid a broad market slump. Line, which went public 11 months ago, was up 1% at 35.73.
AI technologies also are key to Toyota’s vision of self-driving cars that can react to changing conditions on the road as quickly as humans can.
In May, the company said it will put Nvidia’s Drive PX supercomputer — which uses AI to increase driver safety — into the autonomous driving systems of production vehicles. Nvidia also has autonomous-tech partnerships with Chinese search giant Baidu (BIDU) and Tesla (TSLA).
The Nvidia deal followed Toyota’s strategic investment last year into ride-sharing giant Uber. Also last year, Toyota and Microsoft expanded their partnership to develop new services for internet-connected cars.