At CES, Toyota unveils a self-driving vehicle with some surprising uses

09 January, 2018, 02:06 | Author: Greg Santos
  • Toyota e Palette autonomous pod

Toyota revealed a self-driving concept vehicle, the e-Palette, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday.

The e-Palette concept is the first fruit of the labors of Toyota's newly formed e-Pallet Alliance, also announced today at CES.

In addition, Toyota will provide an array of services to help e-Palette customers use their vehicles, including leasing and insurance support and fleet management. So, a particular vehicle could serve as public transit during the day and be quickly converted for shipping packages overnight.

In theory, partners would be able to buy the autonomous e-Palette vehicle with the complete chauffeur technology, or they could opt to use their own automated driving system. Toyota says it'll kick off feasibility testing of the e-Palette Concept in various regions across the world, including in the U.S., in the early 2020s. It's basically a self-driving van that converts into a shuttle bus, a delivery auto, or even a store on wheels, and Toyota envisions it in a community near you in the years to come. Each vehicle will be purpose-built depending on its use. Each e-Palette is also created to be shared between businesses and to quickly transition between applications. Other mobility technologies may be available as well.

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In the future, you won't go to shops; instead, shops will come to you. It likewise plans to be at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

A large number of these automated vehicles can be brought together to create an on-demand city, many times of services can gather and blur the lines between brick and mortar, retail, and e-commerce. The Alliance encompasses a host of launch partners, including Pizza Hut, Amazon, Mazda, and Uber, which will all leverage Toyota's proprietary Mobility Services Platform (MSPF). As a key sponsor Toyota is planning to show off not only its conventional vehicles but futuristic concepts that include a drone-like flying auto. It's the electric skateboard concept that we've seen from multiple automakers.

Toyota is envisaging three different sizes of the e-Palette Concept, varying by length: from roughly 4m at its shortest, to 7m at its longest.

Toyota has been working to develop fully autonomous cars to serve an aging population and the disabled, and technology for regular production cars that could switch between assisted and full autonomy.

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