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Toyota’s New Concept to Combine Ride Sharing and Delivery Services
Toyota unveiled an unorthodox prototype vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas this week. Initially appearing to be an unattractive autonomous black box on wheels, the e-Palette’s actual purpose could revolutionize the consumer delivery industry entirely. The Japanese automaker is already assembling a unique variety of companies from a multitude of industries to form the e-Palette Alliance. So far, they have Uber, Pizza Hut, and Amazon just to name a few, and they are in talks with some other big names that should help them to dominate this new industry. When Akio Toyoda made the introduction of this prototype and idea, he asserted that the job of the alliance would be to “collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities.”
What we can garner from the big reveal is that the basic concept of the e-Palette is to work as an increasingly practical passenger transport vehicle as well as a delivery vehicle for consumer goods.
The somewhat ambitious idea of a mobility-service economy is not foreign to Toyota. In fact, back in 2016, they introduced a Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) that would help the company collaborate with multiple service providers under one umbrella platform. At the time, there wasn’t a whole lot of information regarding how they planned to use this new technology. Only now, after introducing the e-Palette can we really understand the far-reaching capabilities of this platform they have been developing for years now.
Although not aesthetically pleasing, Toyota believes that the toaster-like design of the e-Palette is perfect to achieve maximum efficiency for the purposes intended. In fact, the boxy shape allows the vehicle to be reconfigured depending on specific objective required. This eight-wheeled, all-electric anomaly barely looks as though it could clear a speed bump, let alone handle any type of wind resistance, so there may still be some quite extreme tweaks before it hits the road. The final production should come in three different sizes ranging from 13ft to 23t, so no matter the task at hand, there will be an e-Palette for the job. Toyota feels so confident in this new concept’s viability that they intend to conduct feasibility tests in many regions beginning as soon as 2020.
With this cutting-edge wave of autonomous vehicles threatening the values of traditional car enthusiasts, you’d expect some push-back from certain demographics. However, a much larger portion of the population is already becoming quite dependent on the current flagship mobility-service economy. With options such as UberEats conveniently delivering food on demand, Postmates bringing you other necessities via the request of an app, and Amazon Prime Now dropping off groceries at a moment’s notice, people are becoming much more accustomed to the convenience that is inherent in this new age of technology. Of course, all these current delivery services rely on human drivers, since self-driving vehicles have not yet taken over our roads.
Toyota’s introduction of the e-Palette prototype was just one of the many exciting developments regarding autonomous technology announced during the CES. For more updates, visit their website and view the live stream here.