Toyota is unveiling a future autonomous commercial vehicle at CES 2018, and unveiling a partnership with some major businesses that could best benefit from the technology.
The e-Palette Concept is a fully autonomous, battery electric vehicle with an open-control interface to allow partner companies to install their own automated driving and vehicle management systems, that have been researched and tested to suit their needs.
Those partners, as part of the e-Palette Alliance that will leverage Toyota’s Global Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to develop their own vehicles and services for their respective business applications, include Amazon, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber. And as evidenced by their diversity, the vehicle can be used to deliver parts, purchases, food and even people.
“Toyota remains committed to making ever better cars. Just as important, we are developing mobility solutions to help everyone enjoy their lives, and we are doing our part to create an ever-better society for the next 100 years and beyond,” said Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda. “This announcement marks a major step forward in our evolution towards sustainable mobility, demonstrating our continued expansion beyond traditional cars and trucks to the creation of new values including services for customers.”
Envisioned in three sizes, the e-Palette concept features an open-control interface, with Toyota’s Guardian technology acting as the safety net to keep the vehicle operating as it should. Toyota’s MSPF provides a full suite of services to support fleet management needs, such as leasing and insurance handling, and big-data acquisition.
Toyota envisions lengths varying from four meters to seven, with the display vehicle at CES measuring 4,800 mm long by 2,000 mm wide, with a height of 2,250 mm.
The open interior layout allows businesses to outfit the interior according to their needs, whether that’s parcel delivery, food-delivery or ride sharing, as well as the flexibility to seamlessly change, if the company has various business needs or if the vehicle is shared with other users.
The concept is expected to begin testing in various world markets as early as 2020, starting with that year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.