Toyota to resume self-driving Olympic village vehicles

by SpeedLux

Toyota Motor said on Monday it would restart operations of its self-driving e-Palette pods at the Tokyo Paralympic Games village with more operator control and more safety staff to make sure they did not hit any more people.

The e-Palettes were stopped after one of the vehicles crashed with and injured a visually impaired Japanese athlete at a junction the previous week, prompting an apology from Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.

“The automobile’s sensor detected the pedestrian crossing and activated the automatic brake, and the operator also activated the emergency brake. The automobile and pedestrians, however, came into contact before it came to a complete halt,” Toyota said.

Aramitsu Kitazono was not seriously injured, but had to pull out of the Games judo event on Saturday due to cuts and bruises, further embarrassing the Japanese automaker, which along with other international automakers is trying to develop autonomous vehicles for public roads.

The e-Palette, a pure autonomous battery-electric vehicle, was adapted particularly for use during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, with large doors and electric ramps to enable groups of athletes to board quickly.

Operators will now be given control over how fast the automobiles travel with two safety staff members, instead of one, on board to look out for pedestrians, a Toyota spokesperson said.

Warning sounds on e-Palettes will also be operative and pedestrian guides at busy crossings in the athletes village will also be boosted to 20 from six said the company, which is working with a local police probe to figure out the cause of the accident.

The 2020 Paralympic Games started on Tuesday in Tokyo.

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