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Driverless delivery services: the next frontier for grocery?


Image courtesy Toyota

Consumers may soon be getting their home delivery groceries via autonomous vehicles following the announcement by Toyota that it is developing a driverless electric vehicle in partnership with Amazon, Uber, Pizza Hut, Mazak Motor Corp. and Didi Chuxing.

Toyota, which made the announcement at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV, wants to transition from an automotive company to a mobility company, said Toyota president Akio Toyoda. “Our competitors are no longer those just making cars. Companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are what I think about at night.”

Called e-Palette, the concept vehicle has no windshield and no fixed seats but is designed for use as a passenger-carrying minivan, a parcel-delivery truck, or even a mobile office or hotel room. 

According to a report by Bloomberg News, Toyota has small stakes in launch partners Uber and Mazda and is already seeking additional partners to either utilize the self-driving vehicles or help develop the technology. Didi, the only China-based company joining the alliance, will cooperate globally with Toyota, according to the story.

The self-driving vehicles will be available at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games and additional testing for the North American market will begin early in 2020.

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