Toyota wants to sell driverless shuttles which can double as mobile offices

Hanno Labuschagne

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Toyota wants to sell driverless shuttles which can double as mobile offices

Toyota Motor Corp. is aiming to commercialize an autonomous shipping-container-like vehicle within a few years that it says could double as a mobile store or roving office.

Toyota’s e-Palette is a largely transparent, driverless oblong carriage on wheels that’s powered by a battery. It can accommodate up to 20 passengers, with seats that fold up and allow the space to be re-purposed.

The e-Palette began as a concept vehicle, announced at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who said it is a symbol of how he is trying to transform the world’s second-largest automaker into a mobility company.

[Bloomberg]
 

Ivan Leon

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Toyota Shuts Down Its Autonomous e-Palette Vehicles After Accident At The Olympic Village - Jalopnik​

The suspension comes a day after the initial accident

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Toyota has ordered its e-Palette self-driving vehicles side-lined after a minor accident at the Olympic Village in Tokyo according Reuters.

The Village is currently hosting the Paralympics and the low-speed accident injured a visually impaired athlete.

The low-speed accident occurred as the e-Palette was attempting to make a turn.

The pedestrian was taken to a village medical centre for treatment and was able to walk home afterward.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda issued an apology and explanation via a YouTube video.

From the Reuters report:

"The vehicle had stopped at a T junction and was about to turn under manual control of the operator, who was using the vehicle’s joystick control, when the vehicle hit the athlete going at around 1 or 2 kilometres an hour," Toyoda said.

He said Paralympic officials had told him that the athlete, who remained conscious, was taken to the athlete village medical centre for treatment and was able to walk back to their residence.

Toyota has had the e-Palette vehicles in use specifically for the Tokyo games.

The design of the vehicles with their loading ramps and sliding doors allows a large number of people to enter either by walking in or using a loading ramp.

Toyoda said the accident was an example of how difficult it is for autonomous vehicles to navigate regular roads, like those at the Olympic Village.

The Paralympics is a challenge for the vehicles due to the “special circumstances of the village.”

Although the description of the crash says the vehicle was under manual control, Toyoda says the accident shows “that autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads.”

Toyota says its working with Olympic officials to prevent any more accidents and local authorities to investigate the crash.

 
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