Toyota on Wednesday revealed the version of its e-Palette self-driving shuttle that will be used to transport athletes during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The e-Palette was first shown as a concept in early 2018 and is essentially an easy-to-access minivan designed to travel safely along a loop without the need for a human driver. It forms part of Toyota's plan to expand into mobility-as-a-service, primarily through the use of automated vehicles.
The e-Palette designed for the Olympics, known as the Tokyo 2020 Version e-Palette, will be used to provide transport for athletes and related staff around the Olympic Village, and at least 20 examples will be in operation.
The main changes made to the original concept were to better meet the needs of athletes competing in the Paralympic Games. For example, the doors were enlarged and an automatic ramp installed.
Toyota Tokyo 2020 Version e-Palette self-driving shuttle
The powertrain is electric, while the self-driving system relies on highly detailed 3D maps and multiple sensors and cameras. The lights at both ends have also been designed to mimic eyes to inform pedestrians of vehicle actions.
Its top speed will only be about 12 mph, though, and there will be a person on board to monitor at all times in case of an emergency. Nevertheless, Toyota will be able to gather information for future planned commercial services.
The 2020 Olympic Games will run from July 24 to August 9. However, we'll see the latest e-Palette up close for the first time at the Tokyo Motor Show on later this month.
Toyota has been slow and cautious in the field of self-driving technology but it's clear the automaker is catching up fast. It's formed a mobility company called Monet with a number of other Japanese automakers and has been testing self-driving systems for cars at shared sites such as California's GoMentum Station and Michigan's Mcity locations, as well as its own site at Michigan Technical Resource Park at Ottawa Lake, Michigan.