Toyota launch the e-Palette

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The all-electric autonomous vehicle-if ever produced-would used Toyota's "guardian" and "chauffeur" technologies.

The "e-Palette" vehicle platform features a boxy electric-powered minibus created to handle deliveries or even bring retail services to consumers, but can also be used for ridesharing and other purposes. Meet the e-Palette concept, a cube-shaped self-driving and electric vehicle that wants to delivery pizza, packages, and serve as a ride-sharing vehicle.

In addition, Toyota will provide an array of services to help e-Palette customers use their vehicles, including leasing and insurance support and fleet management.

People in need of a quick nap could send for a mobile hotel, autonomous food trucks could allow workers to cook on the go and ride-sharing vehicles could work as a school bus, medical transport and nightclub taxi on the same day. It is an upright, low-ground-clearance, multi-use vehicle designed for urban environments.

The e-Palette will be fully autonomous and electric. Other mobility technologies may be available as well.

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Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation today revealed a rather left of field take on the increasingly sexy topic of autonomous driving. "In the future, the store will come to you".

"Just think how great e-Palette will be at Burning Man", Toyoda said. Perhaps most interesting is the e-Palette's flexibility.

Toyota has laid out plans for a vehicle ecosystem that could challenge the way we use roads.

Toyota will start widely testing the system in areas such as the United States at some point in the 2020s, and on the home front, Toyota plans to have the e-Palette system up and running throughout the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. What Apollo doesn't have a is a turnkey vehicle it can pitch to partners like Amazon and Pizza Hut, who might be loathe to invest the not-insignificant amount required to build their own auto, or players like Uber who have already invested in prototypes but might see the value of that as more about the resulting software than necessarily owning the hardware design themselves. If that's the case, it's hard to see how Toyota's mobility concept will have much application outside self-contained environments like college campuses or retirement communities.

Toyota will design the e-Palette with input from companies like Amazon, Didi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber.