Toyota imagines autonomous e-commerce deliveries through new alliance

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Toyota took longer than rivals to warm to the idea of autonomous vehicles, but has committed $1-billion through 2020 to develop advanced automated driving and artificial intelligence technology. It likewise plans to be at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Toyota revealed a self-driving concept vehicle, the e-Palette, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday. Is this indeed the transportation of the future for consumers and businesses? Named the e-Palette, it's a totally reconfigurable self-driving compartment, and Pizza Hut wants to configure it to deliver its wares - and possibly even cook them on the way. For example, the automaker imagines the concept vehicle as a package delivery van, a ride-sharing vehicle, and a mobile e-commerce vehicle.

Byton says its $45,000 cars, which are outfitted with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant and are claimed to drive 320 miles on a single charge, will hit the market late next year.

When launched, Toyota has already confirmed partnership with Amazon, DiDi, Pizza Hut and Uber. An e-Palette can bring the whole shoe collection to your customers' homes.

Toyota plans to start testing the vehicle as early as 2020. Toyota will continue to support and monitor the vehicle with its safety net and data analysis and services subsidiary.

The e-Palette Concept Vehicle is an automated, electric vehicle purpose-built for MaaS.

Toyota and its five alliance partners will leverage the automaker's Mobility Services Platform, which was announced in 2016 as Toyota's framework for a range of connected vehicle applications. Hail the roaming pizza oven, complete with (prisoner?) chef.

"What's unique about our system is we offer all the software, all the hardware and all the financial tools you would need to run mobility as a service, soup to nuts", Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said.

Pizza Hut, a Yum!

And though Toyota remains "committed to making even better cars", according to Toyota president Akio Toyoda, he also says the brand needs to move into new areas in line with future transport needs.

Founded in 1958, Pizza Hut has become the most-recognized pizza restaurant in the world, operating more than 16,400 restaurants in more than 100 countries.