The Olympics play an important role for the Japanese society. Far more than a sports event, the Olympics will showcase Japan’s technological capabilities. Unsurprisingly, Toyota has been elected the “Mobility Partner” for the occasion and is gradually releasing the many initiatives to be admired in 2020.
Toyota has announced 3 major streams of innovation to be rolled out by 2020. “Sustainability” or the realisation of a hydrogen society and a specific program to ensure seamless transport between venues for the Olympics’ staff and the athletes will be treated in later articles. In this article, we will discuss the first pillar: “Mobility for All”
The visitor of the Olympics will be able to experience first-hand how autonomous vehicles will, in the near future, offer freedom to move to everyone. Two areas have been selected for Level 4 autonomy demonstrations: Tokyo Water Front City and Haneda (where one of the Tokyo airports is located). Level 4 implies that the areas of operation are limited to pre-defined routes in well-defined areas, but all driving functions will be performed by the vehicle, without human intervention.
Concept-i is a combination of 3 sleek and futuristic vehicles: a scooter, a small 2 seater and a larger coupe-like vehicle. The Concept-i range are vehicles capable of learning the user’s behaviour, preferences and alertness. It will compare external data with the user’s personal information, based on social media activity, GPS information and even conversations that were held in the car. The vehicle will also protect the user and switch to automated driving if it judges that either the driver is not paying attention or an external situation presents a risk for the user’s safety.
Finally, the Concept-i creates an “emotion map” by reading the user’s emotions. In combination with the big data that Toyota is already collecting, the car might start a conversation with the user or propose a different, more relaxing or more exciting route.
Introduced at CES2018, the e-Palette is an electric multi-purpose platform that looks like a box-on-wheels type of vehicle. The concept is a typical “mobility as a service” design that is as flexible on its own as in combination with other e-Palettes. Multiple units can connect and act as a “train”, but on its own, it can either be used for flexible mobility (hailing, sharing) as for flexible individual usage. In Toyota’s promo material, e-Palettes are used for people transport, food delivery or even as a small mobile shop.
Toyota has thought about the less mobile people. WelCab is a line-up of assistive vehicles for, e.g. wheelchair users. The WelCab program also includes personal mobility devices and support for last-mile mobility needs
This funky looking electric 3-wheeler is essentially a car-slash-motorcycle capable of transporting one person. i-Road is promoted as the ideal vehicle for short distance travel in urban areas and will be used by the Olympics’ staff as well as by the event’s security officers.
A final word
Toyota’s President, Akio Toyoda, puts it like this: “The freedom of being mobile is at the heart of being able to participate in society. If someone wants to take on a challenge and moving is what is preventing them from doing so, Toyota would like to help tackle that problem. We want mobility to be a possibility, not an obstacle. By being involved with the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Special Olympics Games, I hope that Toyota will come to respect everyone's uniqueness and embrace diversity. Once that is realized, we will finally be able to take a step closer to our goal of "mobility for all" and ensure, like athletes show us every day, that being mobile equals having a chance to make one's dreams come true.”