The moment when fleets of autonomous vehicles will start riding on streets in our cities will mean not only a deep change of the business model for car manufacturers, but also a revolution in the principles of logistics, retail, and restaurant business. Self-driving vehicles will be more than just a public taxis – first of all, they will be shops on wheels and deliverers of online shopping and food, as well as mobile offices.
All quotes, pictures, and videos published below come from the press conference organized by Toyota Motor Corporation at the CES 2018, that was held in Las Vegas at the beginning of January. The presentation was delivered by Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda.
– You may not be aware that Toyota actually began as a company that built waving looms not cars. It was my grandfather Kiichirō Toyoda who decided to go from building looms to building cars. My goal is to transform Toyota from an automobile company to a mobility company.
Our competitors no longer just make cars. Companies like Google, Apple, and even Facebook are what I think about at night. We are moving from software to a platform that will be the backbone for mobility as a service, for autonomy, for car sharing, and for any number of services that we want to make possible.
That’s why two years ago in partnership with Microsoft we launched a standalone company here in the U.S. called Toyota Connected. We hope to become well known for the mobility service platform we’ve developed to manage large fleets of autonomous vehicles and all kinds of connected services.
At Toyota, we want a car to be a seamless extension of your phone and computer. A kind of personal assistant on wheels able to anticipate your needs through predictive artificial intelligence.
One example of this is a concept we call e-Palette – a mobility solution for e-commerce, retail and beyond.
E-Palette is one example of Toyota’s visions for on autonomous business applications. E-Palette will be fully electric and will be controlled by Toyota’s autonomous chauffeur mode technologies or, if they prefer, partner companies can use their own automated driving system instead.
In either case, e-Palette will include Toyota’s Guardian technologies which will act as a safety net.
Today you have to travel to the store. In the future with e-Palette, the store will come to you. By combining several e-Palettes in one place businesses or communities can quickly create a mobile hub for services ranging from medical clinics to entertainment and festivals. Every e-Palette can be reconfigured for the variety of application within a single day.
We plan to reveal the e-Palette at the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games along with many other new mobility technologies that we have in the pipeline.
We believe so much in this concept of the future that we are creating an alliance of forward-thinking business partners called the e-Palette Alliance to support e-commerce mobilities.
Today I’m pleased to announce that some of the initial members of e-Palette Alliance include Amazon, DiDi, Pizza Hut, and Uber. Mazda will also be a partner for e-Palette supporting our electrification plans.
If you want to learn more about the above-mentioned functionalities of the e-Palette vehicle, please watch the four-and-a-half-minute video from the conference – I chose the most interesting parts.
You can also watch an official hi-res recording of the entire Toyota press conference from CES 2018.
Thoughts after the conference
Concepts presented at press conferences are interesting, but they should be approached with a considerable distance – these are primarily aimed at calling the “WOW effect” and getting publicity in the media (which is OK).
We shouldn’t rather expect that soon thousands of vehicle looking like a plumpy e-Palette will start driving on the streets – their design probably will change. Plus, we can read between the lines.
The direction of changes in the automotive industry is clear: business and money are seen where car companies can provide various on-demand SERVICES related to the transport of people and things and perform them 24/7 using electric autonomous vehicles.
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