Toyota brings toaster-like transport to CES

Posted January 09, 2018

The two companies are now starting on plans to boost the current driver/delivery ecosystem by jointly testing dual communication tech early this year in Pizza Hut delivery vehicles to capture data on driver patterns and behaviors.

The vehicle will come in three sizes and is created to be used for a variety of purposes, including freight and package delivery, ride-sharing, and mobile offices and storefronts.

So, while the e-Palette Alliance will be built on Toyota's own Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), which will include things like the concept vehicle you see here, it'll also support third-party software. That's the question Toyota is posing at CES 2018 this week, revealing the e-Palette Concept to illustrate its thinking. Toyota envisions the e-Palette will serve a variety of potential uses, allowing businesses to deliver goods, transport people, or use the vehicle as a mobile storefront or office.

The website noted that the self-driving vehicles "may one day be used by Pizza Hut to deliver and possibly cook pizzas". Each vehicle will be purpose-built depending on its use. Proponents contend the technology will reduce congestion and improve highway safety, among other things.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda told CES conference attendees: "In the future, the store will come to you". Hail the roaming pizza oven, complete with (prisoner?) chef.

A large number of these automated vehicles can be brought together to create an on-demand city, many times of services can gather and blur the lines between brick and mortar, retail, and e-commerce. Before this, the brand plans to supply the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with versions of the e-Palette. Initial testing is scheduled to begin in the U.S. in early 2020 with further plans to start service during the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

When commercialized, the e-Palette type of vehicle is expected to offer "level 4" autonomous driving capability, which is called by the industry "high automation". As a key sponsor Toyota is planning to show off not only its conventional vehicles but futuristic concepts that include a drone-like flying auto.

Toyota is by no means the only automaker exploring such concepts.

Toyota has been working to develop fully autonomous cars to serve an aging population and the disabled, and technology for regular production cars that could switch between assisted and full autonomy.