At CES in Las Vegas today, Toyota unveiled a new battery-electric multi-purpose autonomous platform concept that they aim to sell to new partners, including Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber, for a multitude of different applications in their respective industries.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota, unveiled the concept during his keynote address at the consumer show:
“The automobile industry is clearly amidst its most dramatic period of change as technologies like electrification, connected and automated driving are making significant progress. 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. 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.”
The vehicle that will power those services to customers is called the e-Palette.
It looks like those design study concepts that never amount to anything, but Toyota says that the vehicle will actually be on roads in various regions, including the United States, in the early 2020s for feasibility testing.
Toyota describes the vehicle:
“With its open interior design layout, the vehicle can be outfitted with purpose-built interiors in accordance with the user’s needs, whether it be parcel delivery, ride sharing, or on-the-road e-commerce. Its flexible framework is also designed for usage optimization, allowing the e-Pallet Concept to be shared to support various business needs and transition seamlessly from one application to another. Toyota envisions that the e-Palette Concept will be made available in three sizes, allowing not just need-specific applications, but also right-sized and right-place mobile solutions.”
The Japanese automaker says that Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber will “collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities.”
I feel like every transportation company or automaker has a similar concept for a one size fits all autonomous vehicle platform.
Of course, such an autonomous vehicle would be extremely practical for a variety of applications, but it’s all dependent on actually nailing autonomous driving technology first.
Until then, I can’t get myself to care much about these kinds of concepts. Focus on the self-driving tech instead.