Toyota has unveiled an assortment of vehicles for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the latest is a fleet of autonomous e-Palette mobility shuttles.
Up to 20 of the specially designed vehicles will be used during the games to transport athletes and staff in an "automated, loop-line" around the Olympic and Paralympic villages.
While the e-Palette was first introduced in 2018, this model has been designed specifically for the event and is known as the "Tokyo 2020 Version." As part of the development process, the company talked to athletes about their mobility needs and gathered feedback about their past experiences.
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As development leader Takahiro Muta explained, “Throughout the development process, athletes, especially Paralympians, helped us to better understand how we could adapt and upgrade the e-Palette to better meet the need for simple, convenient and comfortable mobility. " He added, "We are proud to work with them on a vehicle that will not just move athletes physically throughout the Olympic and Paralympic villages, but will also offer them new opportunities to interact with others, share new experiences, and be moved emotionally.”
Thanks to their feedback, the e-Palette has been equipped with large doors and electric ramps that allow groups of athletes to board quickly and easily. The shuttle also has numerous handrails, flexible seating options and space for four wheelchairs. At maximum capacity, it can hold up to 20 people at a time.
Furthermore, the e-Palette has been equipped with a Level 4 autonomous driving system which uses cameras, LiDAR and high-accuracy 3D maps. This allows the vehicle to drive itself at speeds up to 12 mph (20 km/h), but Toyota noted there will be a safety operator on-board. The company also noted the electric vehicle has a range of approximately 93 miles (150 km).
Since the vehicle is autonomous, it has been equipped with a unique lighting system that uses its head- and taillights to communicate with nearby pedestrians.
Before taking part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the e-Palette will make an appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.