A fleet of driverless, electric mini-buses will transport athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Up to 20 of the specially designed “Tokyo 2020 Version” e-Palette vehicles will operate in the automated, loop-line transportation that Toyota will provide in the Olympic and Paralympic villages.

The battery-electric, automated vehicles have been adapted specifically for use during the Games based in part on feedback from athletes about their mobility needs.

First announced in 2018, e-Palette is Toyota’s first vehicle developed specifically for autonomous mobility as a service (Autono-MaaS) applications.

It reflects Toyota’s ongoing transition to a mobility company and combines electrification, connected networks and advanced driving technologies to support new shared mobility businesses and business models.

With a range of 150km, it is 5.2 metres long and can seat up to 20 passengers, with large doors and electric ramps to allow groups of athletes to board quickly and easily.

The vehicle will be controlled by an automated driving system capable of operating up to 19km/h at SAE level 4, supported by an on-board safety operator.

Toyota plans to leverage the knowledge gained from operating e-Palette at Tokyo 2020 to continue developing the vehicle to support future Mobility-as-a-Service applications.

The Tokyo 2020 Version will be revealed and exhibited at Toyota’s booth during the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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