Amazon, Uber already on board with project
The future is big and boxy, according to Toyota, which just revealed its vision for mobility at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Called the e-Palette concept, the tall, rectangular electric vehicle is designed to shuttle goods and people around busy metropolitan areas, in addition to offering popup space for various businesses.
The concept isn’t just a distant pipedream, however. Toyota also announced at CES partnerships based around the e-Palette that will develop specific uses for Toyota’s new Mobility Services Platform. Partners for the e-Palette Alliance include Amazon, Pizza Hut, Uber, DiDi, and Mazda. Given the companies already on board, you can guess some of the services the e-Palette might provide in the future.
Like most vehicles debuting at CES these days, the e-Palette is fully electric and autonomous. The platform is also designed to be highly flexible, with three sizes proposed offering different lengths and volumes. Lengths will range from 4-7 meters (roughly 13-23 feet), depending on intended use. The concept on display at CES measures roughly 15.7 feet long, 6.5 feet wide, and 7.4 feet tall. The boxy shape, of course, affords generous interior space. Transporting passengers and cargo are a few obvious applications, but Toyota also envisions mobile hotel rooms and retail spaces for the e-Palette. The vehicles will support Toyota’s own self-driving tech, but the control interface can also accommodate partner companies’ own autonomous driving systems.
Toyota will conduct feasibility studies for the e-Palette in select regions, including North America, by the early 2020s. The company also hopes to have the autonomous mobility boxes running around Tokyo in time for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.