CES 2018: Toyota e-Palette Concept Is The Future Of Service Vehicles

CES 2018: Toyota e-Palette Concept Is The Future Of Service Vehicles

CES 2018: Toyota e-Palette Concept Is The Future Of Service Vehicles

The design concept shown at CES measures in at 189 inches long, 79 inches wide, and 89 inches tall. The e-Palette can serve as anything from a driverless ride-sharing vehicle to an automated delivery van - even a mobile store where commuters can shop on their way to work.

It also plans to test the e-Palette Concept in the US and other countries in the early 2020s.

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Companies that operate the e-Palette will load their own self-driving software of choice, while Toyota's "Guardian" technology keeps the goods safe on the road. Or perhaps groups of e-Palettes arrive together to serve food and entertainment at a festival. But there's also growing interest in finding e-commerce opportunities. 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.

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.

The self-driving e-Palette is central to what the two brands call a "mobility service business alliance", which they said also includes Amazon, Didi, Mazda and Uber.

But there are other commercial opportunities, Toyota is betting.

The e-Palette concept previews a future where autonomous vehicles are flexible and seamlessly shareable between people and businesses for a variety of uses. It is an upright, low-ground-clearance, multi-use vehicle designed for urban environments. It's basically a self-driving van that converts into a shuttle bus, a delivery vehicle, or even a store on wheels, and Toyota envisions it in a community near you in the years to come. Hail the roaming pizza oven, complete with (prisoner?) chef. Thus, the e-Palette can shift from one service to the other and companies can ultimately share the platform. 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.

Pizza Hut and Toyota are working toward potential deployment in 2019. The idea is that it will bring business to the customer, Toyoda said.

The Japanese automaker was actually slow to make a push into autonomous technology, only launching its research institute a couple years ago.

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