Autonomous Toyota Hits Paralympic Athlete In Tokyo

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He was released from the hospital the same day.

A few years ago, Toyota revealed the e-Palatte autonomous delivery vehicle at the SEMA show in Las Vegas alongside its normal routine of hopped-up Camrys and GR86s. It had an open operating system to allow other companies to install their own interface. At the time it was working with Amazon, Pizza Hut, and others. Fast forward to 2021 and the e-Palette, equipped with large doors and ramps, was set to shuttle people and goods around the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games.

That plan has come to a halt as one of the company's e-Palatte mini buses hit and injured a pedestrian who was visually impaired. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda apologized for the incident and offered to meet the person, according to a report from Reuters.

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Toyoda said that the accident exemplified the problems still to be figured out with self-driving vehicles, especially in a busy place like the Olympic village with disabled athletes.

"It shows that autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads," he said.

That last part is a little confusing considering the e-Palette was under human control at the time of the incident. It was stopped at a T junction and was turning using the joystick control, and hit the pedestrian at 1 or 2 kilometers an hour.

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Paralympic officials said that the athlete was taken to the medical center and released. He was able to walk under his own power, which is good because he's due to compete on Saturday. The report doesn't mention which sport the athlete was competing in.

Toyota said it was cooperating with local police but would also conduct its own investigation. It also is going to continue to work with the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to prevent any further incidents.

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Source Credits: Reuters

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