Toyota has created a new car-sharing tool that uses Bluetooth and a smartphone to unlock and access a vehicle.
Called the Smart Key Box, the device sits on the dashboard or in the glovebox of a car and uses Bluetooth low energy to identify and validate approved smartphones when they come close.
Powered by a smartphone app on the phone, the customer in the car-share is sent a code once their booking is complete, which is then authenticated when they move up to the car. Toyota calls this process a “handshake”, and once it’s been made the user will be able to open the doors and start the engine, directly from their phone.
The technology is going to be tested in San Francisco in 2017.
It’s something Volvo is already doing, with trials currently taking place on technology that will enable drivers to replace their keys with a smartphone app and Bluetooth. It hopes to roll it out to a limited number of commercial vehicles in 2017, with a wider roll-out possible after that.
Better connecting smartphones and cars is a side of vehicle technology being explored by several firms as an alternative to the driverless and autonomous tech being pushed by the likes of Google and Tesla.
Uber is also now piloting driverless cars on the streets of Pittsburgh, with some journeys being powered by autonomous vehicles.