Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Toyota's new automated auto system will bring retail stores to you

Toyota's new automated auto system will bring retail stores to you

Toyota and Pizza Hut are launching a partnership that could lead to self-driving pizza cars.

Toyota will start widely testing the system in areas such as the United States at some point in the 2020s, and on the home front, Toyota plans to have the e-Palette system up and running throughout the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Toyota revealed an autonomous concept vehicle, the e-Palette, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday.

Toyota is working with Amazon, ride-hailing companies Uber and Didi, automaker Mazda, and Pizza Hut to develop an electric autonomous shuttle that can be used to deliver people-or the packages they've ordered-to their destination.

In terms of design, in addition to the modular interior, the e-Palette features different length and sizes depending on its needs (so large ones for multi-passenger vehicles, and small for pizza delivery for instance).

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"This announcement marks a major step forward in our evolution towards sustainable mobility, demonstrating our continued expansion beyond traditional cars and trucks to the creation of new values including services for customers", said Toyota President Akio Toyoda in a statement.

Even though driverless delivery is still a few years off, the tie-up with Toyota could make the company's delivery system safer and more efficient by analyzing driver data, according to Artie Starrs, who runs Pizza Hut's US operation.

"It's an incredibly symbiotic relationship", Starrs said.

If Toyota has its way, the future of Burning Man would be a sea of autonomous, electric mini-buses.

The Japanese carmaker's announcement is part of its broader move towards augmenting vehicles with technology as a means of competing int he rough and tumble auto market. Toyota's so-called "guardian" technology will then act as a safety net, the company said. Additional testing, including in the US, will begin in the early 2020s.

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