Two of the world’s biggest automakers – Volkswagen and Toyota – are experimenting with boxy cars in the increasingly busy sandbox of autonomous vehicles. Their most recent boxes of driverless tricks are the Sedric School Bus and the e-Palette.
The newest version of the VW Sedric (short for Self Driving Car) is a design exercise that makes the school run more fun for children and less tedious for their parents.
With the Sedric’s OneButton mobility app, which “hails” the self-driving electric shuttle to provide a door-to-door transfer anytime within its radius of operation, even primary-school kids can hitch a little bus ride home easily and safely, but only in theory at this juncture. They will like the ride, too, thanks to the Sedric cabin’s stylised graffiti, stickered aluminium multi-purpose boxes and a large OLED screen to provide onboard entertainment – maybe The Magic School Bus.
The e-Palette is Toyota’s “blank box” concept, which provides a flexible platform for partner companies to create and deploy purpose-built autonomous vehicles that help their businesses and serve their customers.
E-commerce giant Amazon, restaurant chain Pizza Hut and ride-sharing tech firms Uber and Didi, along with automaker Mazda, are collaborating with Toyota on the e-Palette programme.
The vehicle is fully automated, battery-powered and readily customisable, and it comes with an open-source control interface, a set of software tools and the necessary road safety systems. The low-floor, cube-shaped interior with a choice of three sizes has the “empty” versatility to be outfitted according to business or vocational needs.