Just when you thought that e-commerce has reached its peak with Amazon and Alibaba grabbing retail and wholesale business from brick-and-mortar stores, along comes Toyota with its e-Palette, the self-driving store and transportation vehicle of the future. Unveiled at CES 2018 by Toyota President, Akio Toyoda, it is scheduled to officially debut in the 2020 Olympics. The e-Palette is a curious invention; something that is so quirky that it can only come from innovative Japanese minds.
“Need Specific Applications… Right Size… Right Place mobility”
You either like it because it channels Star Wars or detest it with a passion because it, well, looks like it stepped out of a Star Wars movie set. Either way, you are in for a big surprise with e-Palette; a concept vehicle developed for different applications that leveraged Toyota’s Global Mobility Services Platform with input from its launch partners like Amazon, Mazda, Uber, Pizza Hut, Getaround, and Didi. e-Palette will be fully autonomous, battery-electric vehicle with open control interface to allow partner companies to install their own automated driving system. What’s not to like? It’s practically plug-and-play and programmable.
“e-Palette, is an electric, self-driving vehicle that when launched will apparently be a combination deli, pizza delivery, retail shop and ride-hailing service.” Akio Toyoda
The e-Palette is touted as a “New Ecosystem for Mobility-Powered Business”. But what does this really mean? According to Toyota, many applications are lined by and some of these concepts were created in active collaboration with its alliance service and technology development partners. All these were created with the user lifestyle in mind for greater convenience, efficiency, and productivity. Among the more interesting ways, it could be mainstreamed are:
- e-Commerce store
- mass transport/ride sharing
- hotel room
- retail shopping
- mobility for special needs
- food truck/restaurant and more.
The e-Palette Pod is customizable, has a full range of connected applications, comes with an open layout to better suit user needs, and three lengths ranging from 4-7meters. The cube design promises more space as shown in the CES 2018 concept model (L 4,800mm, W 2,000mm, H 2,250m). Not only is it flexible – it also has software tools and an open control interface that will allow partner companies to integrate their own automated driving system.
It is truly the cutting edge of vehicle control technology with its automated control system, cameras, and sensors. It communicates through a global communication system using Toyota’s Big Data Center enabling it to get updates in real time.
“I don’t want to get there first, I want to get it right!” – Akio Toyoda
The e-Palette was conceptualized with the future and impending competition in mind. Realizing that AI and IoT have blurred the lines, Toyota developed what could be the future of utility vehicles to outpace whatever Google, Facebook, or Apple could come up with.
Jack Black, Toyota fan sums it quite succinctly, “so hip for a 60-year-old”.
Photos and Videos from Toyota