Toyota’s Plans for Self-Driving, Entune, Amazon Alexa and Autonomous Pizza Delivery

Toyota has upped it’s technology game with many recent announcements. New Initiatives include Amazon Alexa, self-driving, mobility services, delivery services and pizza hut cooperation.

Talk to Alexa in Toyotas

Toyota announced it will introduce Amazon Alexa, Amazon’s intelligent cloud based voice service, within select Toyota and Lexus vehicles with Toyota Entune 3.0 App Suite and Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0 in 2018. Additional models will be available in 2019. This feature will allow Toyota and Lexus customers in the United States to interact with Alexa in the car.

Next Gen Autonomous Driving 3.0

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) showed its next-generation automated driving research vehicle, Platform 3.0. The new platform, which is built on a Lexus LS 600hL, combines greater technological capabilities with new harmonized styling that integrates the automated vehicle technology into the LS model’s design.

RI approached development of a new research platform with three core principles: (1) Elevate perception capabilities to be an industry pacesetter among automated vehicles; (2) Blend the sensing equipment into the vehicle design with a distinct appearance that is sleek and elegant; (3) Package the automated vehicle technology in a manner that is easy to reproduce for building a fleet at scale.

Platform 3.0 represents maturing of TRI’s automated vehicle research. Experimentation has transitioned to narrowing in on a technology package with a more defined sensor configuration and level of performance that helps catapult proficiency in understanding the world around the car.

Platform 3.0 has a very sensor-rich package that makes it one of the most perceptive automated driving test cars on the road. The Luminar LIDAR system with 200-meter range, which had only tracked the forward direction on TRI’s previous test platform, now covers the vehicle’s complete 360-degree perimeter. This is enabled by four high-resolution LIDAR scanning heads, which precisely detect objects in the environment including notoriously difficult-to-see dark objects.

Shorter-range LIDAR sensors are positioned low on all four sides of the vehicle – one in each front quarter panel and one each on the front and rear bumpers. These can detect low-level and smaller objects near the car like children and debris in the roadway. The new platform remains flexible for incorporating future breakthrough technology as it becomes available.

The vehicle’s computational architecture for operating the automated vehicle components, which previously consumed nearly all trunk space, has also been consolidated. The electronics infrastructure and wiring in condensed into a small box exquisitely adorned with an LED-lit TRI logo.

Production of Platform 3.0 vehicles begins this spring. The Prototype Development Center at TMNA R&D headquarters in York Township, Michigan, which has expertise in low volume, specialized production, will create Platform 3.0 cars from stock Lexus LS models.

Production volume is intentionally low to allow for continued flexibility given the quickness with which TRI has progressed in updating its test platform. There have been three major updates, including two new generation test models, in less than a year, and TRI anticipates continued rapid developments.

“Clearly, Toyota is a well-known maker of reliable hardware. But with Toyota Connected, we hope to become just as well-known for the Mobility Services Platform we’ve developed to manage large fleets of vehicles and all kinds of connected services .We want customers to benefit from their data through contextual services we can provide with our Mobility Services Platform. We want the car to be a seamless extension of your phone and computer, a kind of personal assistant on wheels, able to anticipate your needs through predictive artificial intelligence, said Akio Toyoda, president and member of the board of directors.

e-Pallete Delivery

The e-Palette concept vehicle is a fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle (BEV) designed to support a range of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) offerings. Created as part of a new mobility service business partnership, the e-Palette Alliance, the concept vehicle provides an open interior design layout that is scalable and customizable for various uses — including logistics services, ride sharing, and other on-the-road e-commerce.  Its open-source vehicle control interface will allow partner companies to install their own automated driving system and vehicle management technology. When a partner company’s automated driving system is installed, Toyota’s Guardian mode automated driving technology will supervise its function to help ensure appropriate function.

Pizza Hut is one of the founding members of a new “mobility service business alliance” that also includes Amazon, Didi, Mazda and Uber. Toyota and Pizza Hut have partnered to explore the future of pizza delivery and other initiatives to improve mobility around the world.  The e-pallet fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle (BEV) designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) businesses including delivering packages, passenger or food.