Toyota's e-Palette concept is edging closer to reality

A partnership with Softbank aims to make self-driving cars a service.

Sponsored Links

Mariella Moon
October 4th, 2018
Engadget
Engadget

Toyota and Softbank have established a joint venture that could offer various autonomous vehicle services in the future. Softbank already has several self-driving partnerships with other companies. But this one called MONET (a portmanteau for "mobility network") will combine the powers of Toyota's Mobility Services Platform, which serves as its information infrastructure for connected vehicles, and of SoftBank's Internet of Things platform.

How? Well, for the first phase of the partnership, they're planning to roll out a "just-in-time" vehicle dispatch service for companies and public agencies in Japan. MONET could, for instance, form a shuttle service that automatically dispatches self-driving vehicles, depending on user demand.

However, MONET's ultimate goal is to roll out Autono-MaaS (autonomous mobility as a service) businesses using Toyota's e-Palette electric vehicle, which is still just a concept. Potential businesses include demand-based meal deliveries, wherein meals are prepared onboard while the vehicle is on the go -- perfect for fast-paced Tokyo. We can imagine it moving from one train station to another, depending on the area's rush hour.

e-Palettes could also serve as hospital shuttles, where medical professionals can perform medical examinations, as mobile hotels or mobile offices. Toyota and Softbank are planning to roll out these companies in Japan by 2020, though they're hoping to bring them overseas, as well.

Popular on Engadget