Toyota developing buses to serve as self-driving stores

Tomas Mccoy
January 9, 2018

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.

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The electric, box-shaped vehicle will come in three sizes.

A large screen behind Toyoda played a video rendering of a customer walking into an e-Palette mobile shoe store.

Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation today revealed a rather left of field take on the increasingly sexy topic of autonomous driving.

Amazon or Pizza Hut may one day use the e-Palette for automated deliveries, while Uber envision autonomous ride sharing.

Toyota announced on Monday a self-driving electric concept vehicle that it will tailor for companies to use for tasks like ride hailing and package delivery, underscoring how automakers are no longer simply building cars but also providing services to go with them. Other mobility technologies may be available as well. Hail the roaming pizza oven, complete with (prisoner?) chef. Perhaps most interesting is the e-Palette's flexibility.

"Imagine how great the e-Palette would be at Burning Man", he said. 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. If that's the case, it's hard to see how Toyota's mobility concept will have much application outside self-contained environments like college campuses or retirement communities. Where CES has traditionally focused on technologies like smartphones, TVs and game consoles, automakers, auto suppliers and new mobility entrants have staked a major presence in Las Vegas this year. Apple is widely rumored to be working up its own autonomous vehicle program. "With Toyota, we are excited to be partnering with an undisputed leader in human mobility with a reputation for innovation, reliability and efficiency, as we define the pizza delivery experience of the future". Known as the e-Pallette Alliance, the boxy, autonomous machines will use a Toyota-developed mobility services platform to "create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software support designed to help a range of companies utilise advanced mobility technology".

"I'm less concerned about getting there first than I am about getting it right", Toyoda said.

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