Olympics ‘TOP’ partner Toyota is supplying 20 autonomous vehicles to move athletes and staff around the Olympic and Paralympic villages at Tokyo 2020.
The ‘e-Palette’ vehicles are battery-powered and have been specially adapted for use at the Olympics based on feedback from athletes. Features include large doors and electric ramps to make boarding easier. The vehicles have a top speed of 20km per hour and, although they are capable of driving without a human at the controls, each will have an on-board ‘safety operator’.
The e-Palette was announced by Toyota in 2018 as its first vehicle “developed specifically for autonomous mobility as a service (‘Autono-MaaS’) applications”. The company says the vehicle “reflects Toyota’s ongoing transition to a mobility company and combines electrification, connected networks, and advanced driving technologies to support new shared mobility businesses and business models”.
Takahiro Muta, development leader at Toyota for the Tokyo 2020 version of the e-Palette, said: “Olympic and Paralympic athletes work tirelessly to achieve the impossible, and we wanted to provide them with a vehicle specifically designed and calibrated to fit their mobility needs during Tokyo 2020.
“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. 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.”