For 50 years, the titans of technology have gathered every year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to showcase their most innovative breakthroughs. Among the nearly 4000 companies showing this year is Toyota, which has finally made public its recent advancements in autonomy—and the Toyota self-driving car is surely halting spectators in their tracks.
Last year, we first wrote about the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and its reliance on open source software to develop artificial intelligence (AI) as the building block for their connected apps and autonomous vehicles. Although the focus of the article is on the Toyota infotainment system, the motive for using open source is to establish an easy-to-scale industry standard in software, and open the doors to collaboration with other manufacturers, technology companies, and suppliers.
While the auto manufacturer placed emphasis on the Toyota self driving car, the big reveal at CES 2018 was for the e-Palette Alliance. e-Palette will be an early pioneer of the new trend of collaborative autonomous applications, and will support ride sharing and hailing, package delivery, food trucks, and an on-demand retail experience.
Out of the gate, Toyota has partnered with Amazon, Uber, DiDi, Pizza Hut, and Mazda to implement the technology in autonomous vehicles they aim to debut at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo—with a probable test run on highways earlier the same year. These vans or pods will come in three sizes: bus-size, shuttle, and a small delivery vehicle meant for sidewalks. Once rolling, e-Palette may include shopping malls, entertainment, festivals, and medical clinics.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda spoke of e-Pallete at CES 2018, remarking: “This announcement marks a major step forward in our evolution towards sustainable mobility, demonstrating our continued expansion beyond traditional cars and trucks to the creation of new values including services for customers.”
While we’re excited to see how these innovative partnerships shakeout, we won’t have to wait long—because this year, select Toyota and Lexus models will get Amazon Alexa! So if you want to be the first one on your block to try it out, simply visit your local AutoNation Toyota dealership to take a test drive. The future is now!