Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) held an online event to show e-Palette geared towards practical MaaS applications on December 22, 2020.
Online event of e-Palette Geared Towards Practical MaaS Applications
- 15:00-15:30 on December 22, 2020
- Keiji Yamamoto, President of Connected Company
Connected Company President Keiji Yamamoto's Speech at e-Palette Online Event
History of e-Palette and the key points of Today's Announcement
Hello, I am Yamamoto of Toyota Motor Corporation's Connected Company. Thank you for attending today's e-Palette online event at this busy time in the year end. First, I'd like to express my sincere sympathy to those who have suffered from COVID-19 and those who are being affected by it in various ways. Now I'd like to talk about the history of e-Palette and the key points of today's announcement.
3 years ago, at the January 2018 CES in Las Vegas, we revealed e-Palette to the world for the first time. Toyota announced both e-Palette, a symbol of mobility that goes beyond cars to provide customers services and new values, and the Mobility Service Platform (MSPF) for realizing those services. At that time, President Akio Toyoda declared that Toyota was going to transform itself from a car company to a "mobility company".
At last year's Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota debuted e-Palette as a mobility to support the transportation of athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic villages in Harumi, Tokyo.
In order to propose and help creating a new mobility society based on a various mobility services including e-Palette. We felt it was necessary to have a city where we could actually operate e-Palette vehicles. So, at this year's CES, we announced Woven City. Woven City is an ever evolving city that is also a living laboratory. Here, we will be able to learn a variety of things by operating e-Palette vehicles and evolve them.
Meanwhile, during the financial results briefing the other day, President Toyoda introduced Toyota Philosophy. This unchanging philosophy is the origin of Toyota. The vision is "Creating Mobility for All," and another meaning behind this vision is "Producing Happiness for All." One of the foundations for implementing this mission is the e-Palette.
Let me give you a little introduction about myself. From next January, I will be assigned as "Chief Information & Security Officer" as well as "Chief Software Officer" of Toyota. I think my mission is to accelerate the technological capability and development speed by combining Toyota's strength in hardware that we nurtured through manufacturing and advanced IT technologies as well as software. I would like to promptly put various mobility including e-Palette to practical use and provide safe, secure and comfortable mobility service to all of you.
e-Palette was supposed to have been operated at the now-postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games. Recently, we have been receiving many inquiries about e-Palette from people in the government, service companies, and the media. In response, we decided to give everyone a chance to see the evolved e-Palette.
Despite the crisis brought by COVID-19, step by step, Toyota has continuously developed Woven City and e-Palette for the future. Essentially, we were planning to provide you a riding experience in actual e-Palette, but given the recent spread of COVID-19, we decided to have this online announcement instead. Even though it is an online event, I am delighted that we are able to show you this evolved e-Palette today. Now let us move on and talk about the evolved e-Palette.
Subsequent Initiatives and Evolved e-Palette
As you all know very well, the spread of COVID-19 this year has changed the way we live our lives, creating more diverse needs for mobility that include transportation that enables proper distancing between passengers, and a future of transportation of goods and services rather than people moving about. The shrinking and aging of society will also produce a range of mobility issues, so we believe communities will increasingly need new mobility services, such as the e-Palette and other Autono-MaaS options, to address these issues. The MSPF represents the framework and technology that support the provision of the e-Palette services.
When it comes to mobility services, we assume that customers expect to "go to where it is needed, when needed, and on time" and "provide the services and goods that are needed, when needed, and on time". In other words, just-in-time mobility service is required. In order to realize, we think it is very important to incorporate the Toyota Production System (TPS) ideology.
To achieve this goal, as a new function of MSPF, we utilized TPS to develop an operations management system which consist of the "AMMS" and the "e-TAP." Now, let me explain how we provide e-Palette service by showing the actual operation.
e-Palette introduction movie
How was the video? Now, I would like to explain the AMMS and the e-TAP.
The goal of AMMS is to achieve the ultimate TPS-based just-in-time mobility service. It is the system to dispatch e-Palette vehicles when needed, where needed, and in the amount needed. e-Palette operates based of the upfront schedule, but in case of the change, for example when people waiting at the platform increase, AMMS modifies the schedule flexibly and automatically dispatches vehicles into a service on real-time. This is the basic function of AMMS. Also, when additional vehicles are introduced into a service, the intervals between vehicles are adjusted to ensure even spacing of services. Vehicle abnormalities are also automatically detected and, if that happens, the vehicles are automatically returned to the depot and replacement vehicles are immediately dispatched on the route to ensure stability of operation. In an emergency, the vehicles can be stopped and returned to service remotely, with an extra level of safety management, to provide passengers with peace of mind.
Now I would like to explain about e-TAP. In line with the "Jidoka (automation with a human touch)" approach of TPS, e-TAP was introduced as a visual management function to support staff involved in the operation. Visualization of abnormalities in vehicles and workers enables a single person at the operation control center to manage several vehicles at once. In this way, safe and secure operation with fewer workers becomes possible. Work instructions are automatically provided to workers required for operation, including on-board operators and maintenance personnel. Also, it visually shows the working progress and allows task control when required. Task management including delay and front-loading enables shorter lead-times for maintenance and the provision of high-quality services even with limited workers.That's all for my explanation of AMMS and e-TAP. It was originally developed for the vehicle operations management at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
What we introduced today is just a taste, but we think this mechanism can be applied to the ordinary transportations as well. We believe it will contribute to the sustainable mobility society and eventually to the SDGs.
e-Palette Evolving with Woven City
From here on, I would like to talk about the further evolution of the e-Palette. Toyota is trying to change its way of making products toward the goal of achieving profound transformation, which entire car industry is facing, the likes of which occur only once in a century. The software-first concept is at the center of this effort. e-Palette was born through allowing software engineers to create a car based on the software-first concept.
Now, please take a look at this video.
Interview with TRI-AD CEO James Kuffner
I believe Toyota's hardware has three areas of inherent strength. The first is the outstanding durability of its products. The second is excellent parts availability. Lastly, the third is the great repairability of its products. As a matter of fact, our partner MaaS operators have selected Toyota cars due to these three strengths. By combining the speediness of its software and Toyota's inherent hardware strength, e-Palette will quickly satisfy various market needs and customer expectations.
It was previously announced that the Woven City ground-breaking ceremony would be held on February 23 next year. The Woven City, the objective of which is to pursue better living with a focus on people, is to become a site for the continuous creation of new businesses and services. e-Palette will be refined and will grow with the never-finished, ever-growing living laboratory, Woven City.
President Toyoda is always saying, "When various kinds of information data are linked, we need to become more centered on people. Let's create a people connected society in which people are placed at the center and linked as well as the warmth and kindness of people can be felt." To enable this, we continue to promote the development of Woven City and e-Palette. Also, we aim to work with partners to commercialize e-Palette in multiple areas and regions including the Woven City. We hope to contribute to deliver happiness to mankind at various locations.
Thank you for your attention.
- Cube shaped automated driving EV has been introduced by many companies. What do you think is different about e-Palette compared to those vehicles?
I would like to refrain from comparing to other companies, but let me once again introduce the features of e-Palette that we put special effort on. First, it is the design. We achieved spacious interior with cube shape, large doors, and low floors. Also, we put special effort on its futuristic appearance. This will allow mothers with stroller and wheel chair passengers to easily enter the vehicle with peace of mind. Second feature is the control interface that allows any kinds of automated driving system to be installed on the vehicle. Also, as a backup to safely stop or drive in case of the trouble or abnormality in the system, it equips the guardian system which protects e-Palette like a guardian god. Last but most importantly, I would like to emphasize that e-Palette does not only represent the vehicle itself. As I explained today, we provide both e-Palette and the operations management system in one package as a platform. In other words, e-Palette is one of the component that makes up the Mobility Service Platform. Through the discussion with service operators, we would like to continuously evolve e-Palette.
- When does the e-Palette service starts?
I took it as an encouragement that people want to see e-Palette operating in the market soon. For an actual service, we target the operation in Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic villages next year. First, we put our focus on that goal, but after that, we are considering to introduce e-Palette in various areas around Japan including Woven City. We are currently under discussion with service operators and people in local government.
- Could you name those partner companies?
I would like to refrain from giving the specific name of the company, but thankfully, we receive lots of offers and interests from various entities. We got many inquiries not only for "transportation" use such as a shuttle bus and "logistic" use such as delivery in example but furthermore "contents mobility" such as mobile store and mobile office. With the effect of COVID-19, lately we receive many questions from medical agency. It made us think that we must accelerate the development and promptly introduce e-Palette to contributes to the society.
- Is it really possible to apply automated driving into real world?
Automated driving technology is being developed everywhere around the world that we see the articles related to automated driving for almost every day, but in Japan, we have yet to move beyond the experimental phase. Even we use the same term "automated driving", I think the development of automated driving technology and the creation of an automated driving society requires different approach. In the latter case, particularly, we need to consider social acceptance in addition to legislation. For that purpose, we are now under discussion with the government and the entire car industry centered on Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. We believe that the automated driving vehicle or the mechanism of automated driving itself will definitely contribute to the progress of society. Therefore, car industry as a whole, we believe it is essential to determine the competition area and the cooperation area within the industry in order to work together and complete the development of automated driving technology as quickly as possible to contribute to the society.
Toyota Motor Corporation works to develop and manufacture innovative, safe and high-quality products and services that create happiness by providing mobility for all. We believe that true achievement comes from supporting our customers, partners, employees, and the communities in which we operate. Since our founding over 80 years ago in 1937, we have applied our Guiding Principles in pursuit of a safer, greener and more inclusive society. Today, as we transform into a mobility company developing connected, automated, shared and electrified technologies, we also remain true to our Guiding Principles and many of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals to help realize an ever-better world, where everyone is free to move.
- SDGs Initiatives