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Toyota e-Palette Autonomous Vehicles to Transport Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

by Paul Strauss
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We’re less than a year away from the start of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, so the Japanese city is well underway with preparations for the celebration of athletic talent, sportsmanship, and global goodwill. Among the many things that will be needed for the games to be successful will be methods for athletes to get quickly and safely between their housing and venues during the games – and automaker Toyota is working on just that.

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These specially-designed vehicles are based on the e-Palette, an autonomous, battery electric mini-bus first shown in 2018. This updated version has been specially adapted to provide mobility for the athletes in Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic villages.

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The Tokyo 2020 e-Palette has big doors that slide to the sides to allow for quick entry and exit by multiple passengers, as well as electric ramps to make it easier for those in wheelchairs or with other physical challenges to board and disembark. It has low floors, and a long wheelbase with virtually no overhangs, allowing for the greatest capacity inside.

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One e-Palette has enough room to transport 20 people in standing and sitting positions (including a safety operator), or four people in wheelchairs, along with seven standing passengers.

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The e-Palette is rated SAE Level 4 autonomous, and will automatically drive passengers to their destinations with the help of various cameras, sensors, and sophisticated 3D mapping technology. Toyota says a human operator will be on-board each vehicle for safety purposes, but they will only take the controls in an emergency or if other conditions prevent safe autonomous operation.

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Toyota plans on showing off the Olympic-bound e-Palette during the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, which runs from October 24 to November 4.

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