Autonomous Toyota e-pallet hits pedestrians at Paralympic Games

Toyota has suspended its e-pallet self-propelled vehicle shuttle service after hitting a pedestrian during the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. The shuttles, announced in 2019 before the coronavirus epidemic disrupted life, were designed to ferry athletes around Paralympic villages. However, a collision with a visually impaired pedestrian on Thursday forced Toyota shuttle service to suspend.

The automaker said it was cooperating with a police investigation, and planned to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the cause of the crash. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said in a YouTube video that the crash showed that autonomous vehicles were “not yet realistic for normal roads.” The accident happened at a time when the verification on semi-autonomous driving systems and their real-world safety and capabilities was increasing.

According to Reuters, The shuttle hit the athlete at a speed of about 1 or 2 kilometers per hour, who was then taken to the village medical center for treatment. In a statement released today, Toyota has offered an apology for the man’s speedy recovery. Athletes were set to compete on Saturday morning, and individuals were able to walk back to their residences. The shuttle was at a T junction and was about to turn into manual control during a collision with a pedestrian.

“A vehicle is stronger than a person, so I was obviously worried about what they were like,” Toyoda said in a video statement.

Toyota unveiled the e-palette in 2019 with SAE Level 4 autonomous driving designed for low speed strategy. The vehicle is capable of reaching only 12 miles per hour (20 kilometers per hour). The shuttle was designed with low floors, large doors and electric ramps so that even people in wheelchairs could easily get in and out of the car. The Toyota crash is a reminder that truly autonomous vehicles are still many years away from becoming a reality.

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