Toyota e-Palette Debuts at CES 2018 – Alliance with Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber

By Steve & Tamami Laser

Toyota’s new e-Palette concept vehicle introduced at CES® in Las Vegas is designed to deliver the goods for businesses on the move. The autonomous EV could serve as a mobile office, lab, or retail showroom, shuttle folks around town, and deliver pizzas to their homes. Toyota says Alliance launch partners Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber will collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities.

As Akio Toyoda pointed out during his speech at CES, Toyota made a quantum leap in its early days from manufacturing weaving looms to building cars. The president of Toyota Motor Corp. says his goal is to transition Toyota from an automaker to a mobility company.

Akio Toyoda introduces the new e-Palette concept in this video of Toyota’s press conference from CES. (video: Toyota) 

“I am determined to create new ways to move and connect our customers across the country, across town, or just across the room,” Toyoda said. “Companies like Google, Apple and even Facebook are what I think about at night because after all, we didn’t start out by making cars either!”

The futuristic boxy styling for e-Palette provides roomy, stand-up space inside that can be outfitted to meet user needs. Toyota says e-Palette could be built in three sizes for specific applications and “right-sized, right-placed mobile solutions.”

The e-Palette concept reflects one of Toyota’s visions for “Automated Mobility as a Service” (Autono-MaaS) applications. It’s an automated, next-gen EV designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) businesses.

This video of Toyota’s e-Palette concept shows how the it could be used as a mobile shop or showroom for e-commerce retail experience, a mobile workspace, to create an “on-demand city” and more. (video: Toyota)

The new e-Palette Alliance is designed to optimize Toyota’s proprietary Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) and create a suite of connected mobility solutions on a flexible vehicle. Toyota says the new alliance will “create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software support designed to help a range of companies utilize advanced mobility technology to better serve customers.”

Working while traveling to a client in an e-Palette helps increase productivity (the vehicle drives itself). For example, a customer places an order for a unique product. An e-Palette outfitted like this “FabLab” (above), creates the product on-the-go and delivers it quickly.

This video highlights e-Palette functions and logistics for activities like office and ride sharing. Automated logistics services arrive at a distribution center, and then transfer loads for local e-commerce deliveries. (video: Toyota)

Toyota says that with e-Palette’s open vehicle control interface and software, partners could install their own automated driving system and vehicle management technology. “When a partner company’s automated driving system is installed, Toyota’s Guardian technology will act as a safety net to help ensure appropriate operation.”

The above illustration shows large, medium and small e-Palette vehicles in action. They’re being used for logistics, a mobile lab, ride sharing and pizza delivery. The small module (lower right) could operate on a sidewalk.

A restaurant could use e-Palette as a mobile lounge to serve specialties on the go. It could shuttle customers to a transportation hub, drive them home, or take them to a theater. The Italian restaurant concept tickles our taste buds and so does the thought of a mobile sushi parlor or Pizza Hut.

How does it all work? Let’s take a look at the Next-Generation vehicle control interface (above). Toyota says vehicle control technology is used as an interface for technology providers. “Technology providers can receive open Application Programming Interface (API) such as vehicle state and vehicle control, necessary for development of automated driving systems (automated driving control software and cameras/sensors, etc.). The e-Palette concept also leverages the power of the MSPF to enable over-the-air updates of the automated driving systems.”

“Vehicle information is gathered from the Data Communication Module (DCM) fitted to the e-Palette concept and accumulated in the Toyota Big Data Center (TBDC) through a global communication platform,” says Toyota. “The e-Palette concept will capitalize on this vehicle information to support a variety of finance options, as well as high-level maintenance in cooperation with Toyota dealers. The API required by service providers, like vehicle state and dynamic management, can be viewed on the MSPF.”

Toyota plans to conduct feasibility testing for e-Palette in the early 2020s in regions including the U.S. It also plans to provide mobility solutions for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 with vehicles like e-Palette and others.

News source, illustrations, photos and videos courtesy Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp.

Additional photos (as noted) courtesy Newspress

Story © 2018