Toyota e-Palette concept previews new autonomous vehicle platform

Camille Rivera
January 9, 2018

Known as the e-Pallette Alliance, the boxy, autonomous machines will use a Toyota-developed mobility services platform to "create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software support designed to help a range of companies utilise advanced mobility technology".

The concept vehicle shown has an open interior design layout and can be outfitted depending on the objective, such as ride sharing, parcel delivery or mobile commerce. He unveiled e-Palette, Toyota's autonomous concept vehicle, as proof of a new business landscape just over the horizon.

The e-Palette concept previews a future where autonomous vehicles are flexible and seamlessly shareable between people and businesses for a variety of uses. So, a particular vehicle could serve as public transit during the day and be quickly converted for shipping packages overnight.

Toyota hopes to use the e-Palette during and Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Such vehicles will be able to operate fully autonomously in limited areas.

Toyota plans to debut the actual auto system at the 2020 Olympics and bring e-Pallete to cities in the early 2020s.

A lot of what we've seen from other automakers are perhaps better classified as side bets; case in point, Volkswagen's chief executive expressed skepticism about the extent of the potential of mobility services on stage with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang yesterday, despite the fact that VW has its own mobility sub-brand, Moia. "In the future, the store will come to you". 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. Thus, the e-Palette can shift from one service to the other and companies can ultimately share the platform.

Toyota and Pizza Hut Monday announced a "global partnership", that aims to result in Pizza Hut pizzas delivered in autonomous vehicles.

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.

In the near term, the alliance will focus on developing the battery-electric e-Palette, which will have an open-source control interface that allows partner companies to install their own automated driving systems instead of Toyota's, if desired. Not at all like different automakers that may have drivers hit a catch to change all through full self-governing mode, Toyota would have it work noiselessly out of sight.

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