Toyota's self-driving shuttles return to the Paralympics following crash

The automaker has updated the e-Palette with additional safety features.

Sponsored Links

TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 23: Toyota Motor Corp.'s e-Palette Concept autonomous vehicle is displayed during a press conference at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 23, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. The auto show takes place until November 4. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Toyota's e-Palette is back in service. As Roadshow reports, the automaker has resumed use of its self-driving shuttle at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo following a collision with a visually impaired athlete. Not surprisingly, both Toyota and the games' Organizing Committee have made changes in light of the crash — they've determined that both the autonomous vehicle and the circumstances around it were to blame.

The company noted there were only two guide people at the intersection where the collision occurred, making it difficult for them to watch all vehicles and pedestrians at the same time. There also wasn't a "sufficient" way of coordinating between guides and vehicle operators (such as the manual 'backups' for the e-Palette). It simply wasn't possible to ensure safety at this signal-free intersection without everyone working together, Toyota said.

The company has upgrade the e-Palette itself with louder approach warning sounds, more crew members and tweaks to manual acceleration and braking. Organizers, meanwhile, have increased the number of guides, created an alternative to traffic signals, and split those guides into groups devoted to pedestrians and vehicles. Toyota and the Committee vowed to refine the system on a "daily basis" through the rest of the Paralympics, which end on September 5th.

It's not clear if these changes will be enough. However, this does serve as a reminder that self-driving vehicle tech is still in its infancy — it could be a while before Toyota and other brands can completely trust onboard computing power to safely navigate streets.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Popular on Engadget