Paralympics

Toyota halts use of self-driving vehicle at Paralympic village after collision with visually impaired athlete

Toyota has suspended use of all of its self-driving e-Palette transportation pods at the Tokyo Paralympic Games village.

Incident shows autonomous vehicles 'not yet realistic for normal roads,' CEO says

On Friday, Toyota announced that it was suspending the use of its e-Palette transportation pods after one of the vehicles collided with a visually impaired athlete. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Toyota has suspended use of all of its self-driving e-Palette transportation pods at the Tokyo Paralympic Games village.

That announcement coming on Friday, a day after one of the vehicles collided with a visually impaired athlete.

"This collision has caused worry for a lot of people and I am very sorry," Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda said.

In a YouTube video, Toyoda said the incident showed that autonomous vehicles are "not yet realistic for normal roads."

"So why did this accident occur? I think we can say that we weren't able to cope enough with this special environment for the Paralympics where there are people who cannot see and have disabilities."

The e-Palette, a fully autonomous battery-electric vehicle, was adapted specifically for use during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The vehicle in question had stopped at a T-junction and was under the manual control of the operator, who was using its joystick.

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It collided with the pedestrian going at around one or two kilometres an hour, Toyoda said.

He added that Paralympic officials had told him the athlete, who remained conscious, was taken to a medical centre for treatment and was able to walk back to their residence.

The company said it was co-operating with a local police probe to determine the cause of the accident, adding that it would also conduct its own investigation.

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