The companies will collaborate on vehicle planning and application concepts.
The core of the system is the new "e-Palette Concept Vehicle", which basically looks like a small bus.
Until then, Toyota and the rest of its Alliance will be putting their heads together to brainstorm ways we'll interact with these sharable, shapeshifting, self-driving shipping containers well into the future. The newly founded alliance includes Uber, Amazon, Mazda, and Pizza Hut.
The vehicle itself will obviously be fully autonomous and battery-electric with a kind of "plug and play" interface for partner companies to install their own driving systems and methods of getting around. Toyota did not confirm a top speed for the e-Palette, although it is not designed for high-speed highway use.
Toyota intends to make the vehicle available in three sizes. The company launched its mobility services platform in earnest past year, however, and now it's making it clear that going forward they're going to be putting a lot of investment and focus behind taking the platform and turning into something with real commercial applicability and viability. The e-Palette can serve as anything from a driverless ride-sharing vehicle to an automated delivery van - even a mobile store where commuters can shop on their way to work. That would involve both hardware and software customization. Either way, the vehicle would come equipped with the guardian tech to act as a safety net.
It's an ambitious and unusual approach to what's still a fledgling segment of the auto industry. However, there's little in the way of collaboration between marques on hardware and software: Ford's self-driving cab, for instance, is expected to run Ford's software, while Audi's self-driving vehicle will run Audi's software. That has already caught the attention of a few automakers, not to mention ecosystem partners like Microsoft, BlackBerry, and NVIDIA.
Toyota and Pizza Hut Monday announced a "global partnership", that aims to result in Pizza Hut pizzas delivered in autonomous vehicles.
Don't expect to see these autonomous EVs plying the city streets any time soon, mind.