Toyota has announced a hi-tech way to fetch javelins and hammers at the 2020 Olympic games: pint-sized, self-driving A.I. robot cars.
The Japanese automaker has unveiled a prototype of its next-generation field support robot, a miniature shuttle bus-shaped contraption based on its e-Palette ride-sharing vehicle.
Reuters reports that the vehicle is roughly the size of a toddler’s ride-on toy car and that it can travel at a maximum speed of 20 kilometres per hour.
The vehicle also has three cameras and one lidar sensor which enables it to ‘see’ its surroundings, according to Reuters.
Toyota’s new vehicle uses artificial intelligence that has been designed to follow event officials towards the equipment that athletes will throw during the shot put, discus throw, hammer throw and javelin events.
According to Reuters after the equipment is loaded into the vehicle by the official, a press of a button located towards its front sends the car zipping back to athletes for later use.
Takeshi Kuwabara, a project planning manager who oversaw the robot’s development, told Reuters, ‘Humans are better suited to picking up heavy equipment from the field, but for quickly transporting them to their respective return depots, that’s a job that’s best performed by robots.’
Toyota said it plans to use the Olympic games to showcase its new vehicle technologies ranging from fuel-cell buses to on-demand, self-driving taxis, as it competes with industry rivals and tech firms to develop affordable autonomous cars and electric vehicles (EVs), along with on-demand transportation services.