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Tokyo show: Toyota to display Olympic shuttle

Paralympians help to design Toyota’s autonomous e-Palette passenger shuttle

9 Oct 2019

THE latest version of Toyota’s autonomous electric e-Palette shuttle will be shown off at the Tokyo motor show later this month ahead of its debut on the world stage at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next July.


The company – a major sponsor of the Olympics and Paralympics – will build 20 of the vehicles to move athletes and staff around the Olympic village on an automated loop.


Travelling at just 19km/h, the vehicles have been designed to carry up to 20 passengers – including an operator in case something goes wrong – or four wheelchairs and seven standing passengers.


Electric-operated ramps and large sliding doors have been designed to make entry and exit as easy as possible, especially for paralympians.


The headlights apparently act like human eyes, signalling the vehicle’s intentions to pedestrians.


Toyota’s development leader for the Olympic version of the e-Palette, Takahiro Muta, said the battery-electric, automated vehicles had been adapted specifically for use during the games after feedback from athletes about their mobility needs.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The e-Palette is regarded as a level-four autonomous vehicle, one step below full automation.


Measuring 5.2 metres long and two metres wide, the e-Palette has a range of 150km between charges.


The cube-like vehicle is guided in a pre-determined route by 3D mapping and a combination of cameras and Lidar sensors.


Its use at the Tokyo Olympics is seen as both a branding exercise for Toyota and a test bed for future development of such vehicles for global markets.


Originally shown at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas in January 2018, the e-Palette’s flexible “skateboard” format capable of being adapted to a variety of uses, including ride sharing and logistics.

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