With a design that would let vehicles be customized for parcel delivery or serve as mini-hotels, trucks are being designed in Japan for a driverless future, with interchangeable container areas and no cabins. The innovation comes as higher demand for same-day deliveries and massive growth in online shopping has put pressure on courier firms and their drivers, Reuters reported.
Toyota Motor Corp’s truck-making arm, Hino Motors, featured the futuristic “Flatformer” at the Tokyo Motor Show this week. The vehicle does not have a driver’s cabin. While the low-riding bed is fixed, the container or cargo section can be swapped out. A concept battery-electric model was shown, which has a cargo hold split up into stacked storage boxes to help parcel delivery firms to load, sort and deliver foods more efficiently.
Atsuyuki Hanazawa, manager of the design division for Hino’s future projects group, said per the report, “The idea is to produce a standardized truck bed upon which customers can customize according to the services they offer.”
Daihatsu, Toyota’s mini-vehicle brand, also displayed its “Tsumu Tsumu” model with a removable cargo hold. It can be adapted to meet the needs of farmers moving harvests or businesses delivering food to eateries, as well as those of a food truck.
In separate news, Sweden-based Einride, which makes autonomous delivery vehicles, has notched $25 million in fresh capital. The firm’s products have no cabs, which makes the vehicles lighter and less costly to fuel than trucks with drivers. The company works in partnership with fleet managers to deploy those vehicles or sells them outright, and counts the supermarket company Lidl among its clients. Scant information was immediately available from Einride, which appears poised to use that capital to expand internationally and continue the development of its electric Einride Pods.