Toyota's mobility business shifts into high gear at CES
Toyota's mobility business shifts into high gear at CES
Toyota unveiled a crazy-looking self-driving vehicle that could haul freight or deliver pizza on the sidewalk
09 January, 2018, 02:02
It comes in three sizes ranging from 4 meters (about 13 feet) to approximately 7 meters (around 23 feet) and is purposely created to be flexible and reconfigurable to accommodate a wide range of equipment and an even broader range of uses.
Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda revealed the so-called e-Palette concept vehicle and announced the business alliance Monday at CES, the annual tech trade show in Las Vegas.
Toyota Motor unveiled a concept auto showcasing its vision for the self-driving electric vehicles of the future at America's premier consumer tech trade event here Monday.
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.
The website noted that the self-driving vehicles "may one day be used by Pizza Hut to deliver and possibly cook pizzas".
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. Each vehicle will be purpose-built depending on its use.
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A large screen behind Toyoda played a video rendering of a customer walking into an e-Palette mobile shoe store.
Pizza Hut and Toyota have joined forces with the goal of creating autonomous vehicles that can deliver meals and possibly cook in transit.
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.
"Imagine how great the e-Palette would be at Burning Man", he said.
Toyota plans to start testing the system in the U.S. in the early 2020s, after introducing similar mobility systems at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. 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 will design the e-Palette with input from companies like Amazon, Didi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber. It's definitely an idealized projection of what's to come, and things would e much more messy in practice, but it's definitely something worth pursuing - and a smart strategy for an automaker to adopt in terms of figuring out what comes next, once autonomy and electric vehicle investments change the face of transportation.
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