Toyota's e-Palette is back in service. As Roadshowreports, 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.Continue Reading