Aug. 27 -- Toyota announced that it will stop using all of its e-Palette self-driving vehicles used at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The announcement came after an accident in the Paralympic Village on Aug. 26, when a Toyota e-Palette collided with a visually impaired athlete, injuring them.
Toyota Stops Use of Self-Driving Vehicles
Toyota is a well-known automaker that specializes in hydrogen and ICE fuel cell vehicles. They are one of the companies in the world that was able to launch the said product.
The car company has been a prominent sponsor for both the Paralympic and Olympic Games. In 2015, the company signed an eight-year contract worth $1 billion to stay as the sponsor, according to Electrek.
The 2020 Paralympics and Olympics are both held in the automaker's home country of Japan. Toyota used the two events to reveal its new technologies to the world.
The technologies included LQ self-driving electric vehicle, but it remains a concept that has not been officially launched yet.
After the LQ electric vehicle was introduced, the automaker announced that it would implement 20 of its e-Palette self-driving pods to the 2020 Paralympic and Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The e-Palettes were revealed in 2019. The vehicles used low-speed SAE level 4 technology to drive disabled athletes around the village.
However, the accident that happened on Aug. 26 proves that the self-driving technology may not be ready for use, and it needs more assessment for the sake of human safety, according to The Drive.
A study from the University of Kent suggested that automakers like Toyota should conduct several tests before launching self-driving vehicles to avoid accidents.
Injuring a Visually Impaired Athlete
According to Reuters, Toyota has immediately stopped the operations of all of its e-Palette pods at the Paralympic Games following the accident.
An e-Palette driving through the village accidentally struck a visually impaired pedestrian who was supposed to compete in the games on Aug. 27.
According to the automaker, the self-driving car had stopped at a junction and was about to make a turn when it collided with the visually impaired athlete. The athlete was said to be going at a speed of 2 kilometers per hour.
Akio Toyoda, the Chief Executive of the company, personally apologized for the accident and talked about the difficulties that the automaker has faced during the event in Tokyo, trying to remain conscious of pedestrians with disabilities.
Toyoda stated that a vehicle is stronger than a person, so he was very worried about how the athlete is doing. He added that it only shows that autonomous cars are not ready for normal roads.
Toyoda also said that he offered to meet the injured athlete, but he was not able to do so. He said that Paralympic officials had told him that the victim remained conscious after the accident and was immediately taken to the medical center at the village for treatment.
Luckily, the athlete was able to walk back to the residence after a few hours, where he will be resting.
The automaker is cooperating with a local police investigation to determine the cause of the accident. Toyota also shared its plans to conduct its own investigation, and they will work together with the Paralympic committees in Tokyo to make sure that the accident won't happen again.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by Sophie Webster