As if avoiding a virus in a city where athletes from across the world have converged wasn’t enough, Paralympians must also be wary of autonomous vehicles hitting them as they head to their events.
An e-Palette pod from Toyota Motors injured a visually-impaired Japanese athlete when it struck him at a junction. Toyota responded with a video apology on YouTube from Chief Executive Akio Toyoda.
Despite the accident, which discontinued operations, Toyota Motors’ e-Palette pods will get a second chance. The auto manufacturer said the self-driving vehicles will resume service at the Tokyo Paralympic Games village, Reuters reported.
The athlete avoided serious injuries but still withdrew from his judo event due to cuts and bruises. Toyota is cooperating with a police probe as it attempts to determine the cause of the accident.
Toyota said in a statement that the autonomous battery-electric vehicle detected the pedestrian and activated the automatic brake. It also said the operator activated the emergency brake, but the e-Palette hit the athlete before it could come to a complete stop.
The e-Palette, equipped with large doors and electric ramps, was adapted to transport groups of athletes during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
As to be expected, changes were made to the vehicle after the accident. They include operators being able to control how fast the vehicles travel. There will also be two safety staff members who will be on the lookout for pedestrians.
Also, warning sound volume will increase and 20 pedestrian guides will be stationed at busy crossings in the athletes village.