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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Toyota puts autonomous e-Palette on pause after Paralympics crash

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Toyota has suspended its self-driving e-Palette shuttles on the back of a collision with a vision-impaired athlete at the Paralympics in Tokyo.

The athlete wasn’t seriously injured, and walked back to their accomodation after being assessed by doctors.

Although the shuttle was under human control when the accident happened, Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda said the incident shows “autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads”.

Mr Toyoda said the e-Palette was getting ready to turn under human control at a junction before the crash.

The chief executive says he offered to speak directly with the athlete involved after the accident, but was turned down.

Mr Toyoda also pointed to the aircraft-style joystick used to manually control the e-Palette as a potential cause for the crash.

Toyota said it is “fully cooperating with the police investigation into the incident in order to determine the cause of this accident”.

The e-Palette is a shuttle designed to haul people or goods around without a driver behind the wheel.

The futuristic-looking electric vans were modified to work at the Paralympics, with ramps for wheelchair-bound athletes and support for the vision-impaired.

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