Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber have already signed on as partners in the project.
The future of automobiles might not be very pretty – at least aesthetically – if Toyota gets its way. At this year's CES, the automotive giant has unveiled the boxy e-Palette Concept as the shape of the firm's future autonomous mobility service. Major companies like Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber have already signed on as partners in this project.
The e-Palette Concept is simply a box on wheels, and Toyota would offer the body in three lengths from 13 feet (4 meters) to 23 feet (7 meters). While this isn't visually interesting, it fits the vehicle's purpose of being extremely versatile. The tall size and lack of curves maximize what can fit into the concept – like Uber packing people inside or Pizza Hut stacking stuffed crust pies to the roof. The partners is free to outfit the interior however they please.
Toyota intends to work with its partners to create a business ecosystem around e-Palette. The vehicle would as the basic building block but be highly scalable.. The companies would be free to create hardware and software to fit their individual needs. The firm's wouldn't even need to use Toyota's self-driving tech, and firms would be free to install their own systems.
Partnering with Toyota on the e-Palette project would come with the advantage of shared data. Each one would send information back to the Toyota Big Data Center, where clients would be able to do tasks like handle payments, monitor the state of the vehicle, or schedule service at Toyota dealers.
Don't look to get your next pizza from an e-Palette, though, because feasibility tests of the boxy vehicle don't begin until 2020. Toyota will even have them at the Olympics in Tokyo that year.
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