Toyota Puts the Brakes on Its Self-Driving Vehicle Program After Running Over a Visually Impaired Paralympics Athlete
TOKYO, JAPAN - Toyota Motor Corporation's autonomous e-Palette vehicles program in Tokyo, Japan, was terminated by Toyota following a collision with a visually impaired Paralympics athlete. Last Friday, Toyota publically addressed the accident that happened inside the Athletes' Village.
According to the news report, the visually impaired pedestrian was trying to cross a street within a designated crossing when the pedestrian was hit. Toyota expressed its sincerest apologies to the victim who was injured in the collision and that it hoped for his speedy recovery. Toyota representatives also apologized for inconveniences caused by the company's mobility vehicle incident in the Athletes' Village.
The victim's coach reported that the athlete would no longer be able to compete in the men's 81-kilogram division as he recovers from the accident. The coach stated that the victim was disappointed that he would not be able to compete in the Paralympic Games.
According to Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who apologized personally for the collision on YouTube, adding "there was some overconfidence in the autonomous driving concept." He additionally stated in the apology that the accident "shows that autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads."
Toyota reported that the company is "fully cooperating with the police investigation" to determine the cause of the crash. Toyota will also conduct its own accident investigation and is committed to working with the Olympic and Paralympic Games committees in Tokyo to prevent similar accidents.
The e-Palette shuttle is equipped with systems that are designed to detect obstacles and people on all four sides of the electric, self-driving vehicle. When the system detects an obstacle or pedestrian, the technology is supposed to stop the motor vehicle immediately.
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