The two companies are now starting on plans to boost the current driver/delivery ecosystem by jointly testing dual communication tech early this year in Pizza Hut delivery vehicles to capture data on driver patterns and behaviors. The big reveal included simulated animation of the vehicle operating in a variety of different capacities, including training multiple together in convoys of urban light-duty transport trucks, picking up as four passengers for shared transit, or just one for a mobile office, acting as a hotel and even delivering food, pizza and packages without anyone on board.
Toyota is calling them "e-Palettes" and describes them as "fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle [s] created to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses". The alliance will focus on the development of the new e-Palette Concept Vehicle in the near term.
Think of e-Palette as a "multi-purpose moving space", said Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota Motor Corp. and grandson of its founder. Toyota said the concept can be fitted with purpose-built interiors that allow the e-Palette to shift duties seamlessly. Or perhaps groups of e-Palettes arrive together to serve food and entertainment at a festival. It's basically a self-driving van that converts into a shuttle bus, a delivery auto, or even a store on wheels, and Toyota envisions it in a community near you in the years to come. Toyota did not confirm a top speed for the e-Palette, although it is not designed for high-speed highway use.
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In the future, you won't go to shops; instead, shops will come to you.
Toyota intends to make the vehicle available in three sizes.
Toyota created an e-Palette Alliance with launch partners such as Amazon, DiDi, Pizza Hut, Uber and Mazda. The company is looking to deploy models at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to transport associated personnel. In one, an e-Palette delivery truck drops off a package with help from a small robot that zips out to drop it at the customer's front door. 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. "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".