Toyota is making a huge push towards being a mobility company, and one of those thrusts is autonomous mobility.
Specifically, that means accelerating the development of autonomous as well as electric vehicles.
At the recent Tokyo Motor Show 2019, Toyota unveiled plans to have cars in every electrified category in future: BEV, MHEV, PHEV and even FCEV.
That last one stands for fuel cell electric vehicles, which the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai is.
It also showcased two autonomous vehicles, one of which looks nothing at all like any current car.
What autonomous vehicles can we expect during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Toyota’s Platform 4 (P4) automated driving test vehicle will be available for public demonstration test rides from July to September 2020.
It’s based on a fifth-generation Lexus LS that has been outfitted with Lidar and sensors.
It will demonstrate Toyota’s “Chauffeur” SAE Level-4 capabilities in a specific “mobility as a service” (MaaS) driving environment.
The P4 experience will take place in Tokyo’s busy and congested Odaiba district.
Its mix of pedestrians, vehicle traffic, diverse road infrastructure and tall glass buildings provide a “challenging setting” where the capabilities of Toyota’s automated driving technology can be tested.
Following Japanese law, a safety driver will be present during the experience, Toyota said.
“By challenging ourselves to successfully operate autonomously in Odaiba, we have set a high bar that requires us to rapidly expand the capabilities of our technology in a short amount of time,” said Toyota Research Institute (TRI) chief executive Gill Pratt.
The second vehicle used at next year’s Olympics and Paralympics is the Toyota e-Palette.
Announced in 2018, it’s symmetrical front and rear, resembling a cube with wheels at the four corners.
However, the boxy shape means the e-Palette offers expansive interior space.
Toyota announced it will supply “up to” 20 specially-designed e-Palette vehicles for athlete mobility at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The e-Palette is Toyota’s first vehicle developed specifically for autonomous mobility as a service (“Autono-MaaS”) applications.
It has large sliding doors, low floors, electric ramp and an Arrival Control system for use when approaching destinations to enable passengers, including those in wheelchairs, to enter and exit with ease.
A specially-designed automated driving system includes control hardware, software, cameras and Lidar.
Combined with high-accuracy 3D mapping and an operation management system, the e-Palette can (slowly) drive itself at Level 4 autonomy.
A neat feature: Both front and rear lamps on the vehicle mimic eye contact to inform pedestrians of vehicle actions.
Like the P4 platform above, a safety driver will be present in every e-Palette.