TOKYO (Reuters) - Miniature remote controlled cars have proved to be a crowd pleaser at track and field throwing events, but for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Toyota Motor Corp is upping the game with a hi-tech way to fetch javelins and hammers: pint-sized, self-driving A.I. robot cars. The Japanese automaker on Monday unveiled a prototype of its next-generation field support robot, a miniature shuttle bus-shaped contraption based on its "e-Palette" ride-sharing vehicle under development, to be used at the Tokyo Games. The vehicle, roughly the size of a toddler's ride-on toy car, can travel at a maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour and sports three cameras and one lidar sensor which enable it to "see" its surroundings. Draped around the top of its body is a band of LED lights which illuminate when the vehicle uses artificial intelligence to follow event officials toward the equipment hurled by athletes onto the pitch during shot put, discus throw, hammer throw and javelin events. After the equipment, which can weigh as much as eight kilograms for hammers, is loaded into the vehicle by the official, a press of a button located toward its front sends the car zipping back to athletes for later use.
When athletes and organizers descend on Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games, they'll be ferried around in autonomous cars, while torch relay runners will be accompanied by AI-equipped cars. Robots will ferry javelins and hammers. All told, Toyota Motor Corp. will provide 3,700 vehicles, including dozens of self-driving cars, about 500 fuel-cell vehicles and 850 battery-electric cars to the international sports competition. As a top sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics and an automaker facing a murky future when gasoline-powered engines will fade away, Toyota is doing everything it can to market its transition into an eventual provider of on-demand transportation for consumers and businesses, instead of being merely an industrial manufacturer. "We want to use the Olympics and Paralympics that happen every two years as a milestone," Masaaki Ito, general manager of Toyota's Olympic and Paralympic Division, said in an interview.
Toyota will roll out a fleet of approximately 3,700 vehicles for the 2020 Olympics, 90 percent of which will be electrified. The Japanese automaker says it aims to achieve "the lowest emissions target level of any official vehicle fleet used at the Olympic and Paralympic Games." Following the reveal of the Accessible People Mover (APM) specially designed shuttle, Toyota has released details about two models modified for the Olympics: the e-Palette and Concept-i electric vehicles. The e-Palette is battery-electric shuttle with Level 4 autonomous driving capability that supports smooth transport over short distances. It features a low-floor and electrically-operated platform that leaves little to no gap or opening between the curb and the bus at stops.
With everything from a mist curtain designed to cool people off in the oppressive summer heat to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and robots delivering refreshing drinks, companies are sparing no expense as they gear up for a marketing bonanza. Panasonic hopes to see Hospi robots guiding hotel guests to their rooms and also providing room service. Toyota Motor Corp. has a blueprint for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles or buses, which only emit water, to ride around the Olympic venues in an official capacity. The automaker also hopes to promote the Toyota Mirai -- the world's first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that went on sale in December 2014 -- to Olympic officials and visitors.
NAGOYA – Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday its e-Palette autonomous electric vehicles will transport athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The boxy battery-powered vehicle with no driver seat, unveiled in January as future transportation for use in a broad range of services such as ride hailing and package delivery, will operate in the athletes' village, Toyota said. As Japan's largest automaker by volume is accelerating the development of green and safer vehicles, it will provide a fleet of over 3,000 passenger vehicles for official use in the Olympics, including the Mirai, the world's first mass-produced fuel-cell car, and the Sora, a fuel-cell bus. Fuel-cell vehicles are powered by electricity generation through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, a green system that Toyota has long been focusing on as a promising future technology. The automaker also plans to offer connected cars with its hybrids, plug-in hybrids and other electrified vehicles.