Toyota has moved one step closer to making its self-driving cars a reality, partnering with several companies – including Amazon – to develop the vehicles that will deliver packages, food and even people to desired locations.
“It’s my goal to transition Toyota from an automobile company to a mobility company, and the possibilities of what we can build, in my mind, are endless,” Akio Toyoda, the automaker’s president, said Monday at CES in Las Vegas.
The car showcased at CES, the e‐Palette concept, will be available in three sizes. The open interior layouts will feature flat floors so that companies can organize them based on their needs, and the larger vehicles will have enough room for adults to stand up inside. In fact, Toyota revealed that these cars, which resemble large buses, could even be reconfigured as portable hotel rooms.
The battery-electric powered e-Palette will have an open‐source control interface, which will allow partner companies to use their own automated driving systems. Toyota will provide services such as leasing and insurance support and fleet management, and will also give users access to its global communications network and a Toyota Big Data Center.
Moving forward, Toyota will continue to seek out new partnerships. It plans to have the cars available at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games, and additional testing – including in the U.S. – will begin in the early 2020s.