Published: Tue, January 09, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Darrell Mcdonald

Toyota unveils customisable self-driving e-Palette vehicle

Toyota unveils customisable self-driving e-Palette vehicle

Other companies and startups have begun to explore the concept of modular electric-and-autonomous vehicles. The big reveal included simulated animation of the vehicle operating in a variety of different capacities, including training multiple together in convoys of urban light-duty transport trucks, picking up as four passengers for shared transit, or just one for a mobile office, acting as a hotel and even delivering food, pizza and packages without anyone on board.

Toyota announced on Monday a self-driving electric concept vehicle that it will tailor for companies to use for tasks like ride hailing and package delivery, underscoring how automakers are no longer simply building cars but also providing services to go with them.

Toyota's news comes as major auto manufacturers and tech giants gather this week at the event, formerly the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), to showcase whole suites of products meant to overhaul human mobility.

The e-Palette concept previews a future where autonomous vehicles are flexible and seamlessly shareable between people and businesses for a variety of uses.

These are some of the potential uses Toyota envisions for the e-Palette.

It also plans to test the e-Palette Concept in the USA and other countries in the early 2020s. In the other, a customer orders shoes online, and an e-Palette mobile store shows up at his home.

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This is the first time the Toyota president has appeared in a CES-related event and voiced his vision for the company's future.

The company said it hopes to showcase the technology at the 2020 Olympics in Japan. 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.

Partners in the project, which is set to be deployed "in the early 2020s", include Amazon, Uber, Pizza Hut and China-based Didi. Instead, it's pitching the e-Palette Alliance: an ecosystem of hardware and software for partners who want to take advantage of driverless technologies.

Toyota is by no means the only automaker exploring such concepts.

Akio Toyoda himself introduced the very upright, not-cross-wind-friendly e-Palette, which can be used for any number of portable business needs.

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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