Just like Rinspeed’s latest project, the Snap Mobility prototype, the Japanese automaker Toyota thinks that when autonomous cars rule the world they won’t be out there for their aesthetics, but for the workhorse prowess.
During this year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota has presented the container-inspired e-Palette Concept as the vision for the company’s possible autonomous mobility service. It’s also something that is looking to come to life, because already Toyota has signed on major partners such as Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber. The e-Palette Concept is virtually a box on wheels, with the body range having three lengths from 13 feet (4 meters) to 23 feet (7 meters). Versatility was key here, with the partner allowed to make changes to the interior as it needs.
More so, Toyota is fully intent on working with the partners to imagine a business ecosystem around e-Palette, with companies also allowed to work on hardware and software changes to fit their scale – and everything would be free to be used from outside Toyota, even the self-driving technology. The idea is to partner on the e-Palette project to also share data, with everyone sending information to the Toyota Big Data Center, where clients would be able to handle any task, from payments to schedule service duties at Toyota’s dealers. The only downside is the initial trial runs for the e-Palette don’t kick off before 2020, though Toyota promises to have them ready in time for the Olympics in Tokyo that year.