Toyota to use BLE and NFC to help drivers ‘Getaround’

smart-key-boxToyota is entering the car-sharing market with a $10 million investment in San Francisco-based Getaround. The car manufacturer will use part of its investment to test a Bluetooth-enabled device — Smart Key Box — that allows users to unlock and start Getaround vehicles with just their smartphones.

Getaround allows car owners to rent out their own vehicles when they’re not in use, in order to decrease the amount of time they spend idle and help car owners use their vehicles to help offset the cost of owning them in the first place. As part of the new strategic partnership, Toyota will offer new vehicles, beginning with premium Lexus cars, for rental via Getaround with completely keyless entry and driving via their smartphone. “Integrating our experience and purpose-built car-sharing technology with Toyota’s activities across mobility services opens up new opportunities to Toyota customers and the rapidly growing car-sharing market,” said Getaround CEO and founder Sam Zaid.

Here’s how the system will work: a vehicle owner who wants to make some money on the side lending their car to other people can install the Smart Key Box on their dashboard, no modification needed. The car-share customer is sent a code via an app to access the box. When the smartphone is brought near the vehicle, the codes are authenticated via Bluetooth — Toyota calls it a “handshake” — similar to regular smart key. The time and period when the user can access the Smart Key Box is set and managed by Toyota, based on the vehicle reservation.

Tests of the Smart Key Box, expected to start in San Francisco in January, will be functional only on Lexus and Toyota Prius models made available on Getaround. “By collaborating with various companies and services, we would like to help create a new mobility society in order to offer safer and more convenient mobility to our customers,” commented Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota’s in-house connected company.

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Categories: Bluetooth Low Energy, Near Field Communications

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