The battery-electric, automated vehicles, called e-Palette, have been adapted specifically for the Games based in part on feedback from athletes about their mobility needs in the past games.
They also are wheelchair-accessible, and will be used again during the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 that follow the “regular” Olympics.
The buses feature large doors and electric ramps to allow groups of athletes, including Paralympians, to board quickly and easily. The “Tokyo 2020 Version” e-Palette can hold up to 20 passengers, or up to four wheelchairs and seven passengers.
Toyota, which of course is based in Japan, and is a major sponsor of both Games, has supplied 20 of the vehicles, to provide loop-line transportation around the villages.
First announced in 2018, e-Palette is Toyota’s first vehicle developed specifically for autonomous mobility as a service (“Autono-MaaS*1“) applications.
The automated driving system constantly monitors for obstacles across a full 360-degree field of vision around the vehicle and operates at a speed appropriate and in accordance with the surrounding environment, which is around 15 miles per hour. There is also an on-board safety operator to monitor the vehicle’s movement, able to take control if necessary.
It reflects Toyota’s ongoing transition to a mobility company and combines electrification, connected networks, and advanced driving technologies to support new shared mobility businesses and business models.
Toyota plans to leverage the knowledge gained from operating e-Palette at Tokyo 2020 to continue developing the vehicle to support future Mobility-as-a-Service applications.
Autonomous vehicles such as the e-Palette are already in limited use on corporate and college campuses around the world.
Overview of the e-Palette “Tokyo 2020 Version”
Designed for comfortable mobility
Designed with front/rear symmetry, a distinctive cube shape, and wheels at the four corners, the vehicle offers expansive and comfortable interior space.
Reflecting Toyota’s commitment to providing “Mobility for All,” it includes handrails and seats that are easy to use regardless of height. The floor, trim, seats, and other components feature color contrasts that assist people with color-blindness.
Enabling quick and easy entry/exit for passengers
The e-Palette is equipped with large sliding doors, low floors, electric ramps, and an Arrival Control*4 system for use when approaching destinations to enable passengers, including those in wheelchairs, to enter and exit quickly and easily.
With its long wheelbase and flat floor, the vehicle can transport up to four passengers in wheelchairs along with additional standing passengers at one time.
Low-speed automated driving with a focus on safety
The e-Palette is equipped with a specially-designed automated driving system that includes control hardware, software, and advanced sensors such as cameras and LiDAR. Combined with high-accuracy 3D mapping and an operation management system, e-Palette will realize low-speed automated driving at SAE level 4.
To support safe operation, the e-Palette features an external human-machine interface designed to assist communication with those around the vehicle, including pedestrians, during automated driving. Both front and rear lamps on vehicle mimic eye contact to inform pedestrians of vehicle actions.
“Olympic and Paralympic athletes work tirelessly to achieve the impossible, and we wanted to provide them with a vehicle specifically designed and calibrated to fit their mobility needs during Tokyo 2020,” said Takahiro Muta, development leader for the unique version of the “Tokyo 2020 Version” e-Palette.
“Throughout the development process, athletes, especially Paralympians, helped us to better understand how we could adapt and upgrade the e-Palette to better meet the need for simple, convenient and comfortable mobility. We are proud to work with them on a vehicle that will not just move athletes physically throughout the Olympic and Paralympic villages, but will also offer them new opportunities to interact with others, share new experiences, and be moved emotionally.”
Deploying the e-Palette to support athlete and staff mobility is a key element of Toyota’s program to provide advanced mobility solutions for Tokyo 2020 as the first worldwide mobility partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In addition, Toyota plans to leverage the knowledge gained from operating e-Palette at Tokyo 2020 to continue developing the vehicle to support future Mobility-as-a-Service applications.
|Length / Width / Height / Wheelbase||5,255 mm / 2,065 mm / 2,760 mm / 4,000 mm|
|No. of passengers|
Up to 20* (including one operator)
|Range||Approx. 150 km|
All photos courtesy Toyota