Toyota suspends use of self-driving vehicles after collision with Paralympics athlete in Tokyo

  • 04 Sep - 10 Sep, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Mag Files

Toyota has suspended the use of its autonomous e-Palette vehicles after one struck a visually impaired athlete at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. The Japanese automaker announced the move in a statement addressing the accident, which occurred within the Athletes' Village. The pedestrian in question was attempting to cross the street at a designated crossing when they were hit. The collision occurred as a visually impaired athlete – identified as Japanese Paralympic judoka Aramitsu Kitazono – was trying to cross the road. Police said an e-Palette bus was turning right at an intersection in the village as Kitazono walked across the street. The 30-year-old sustained bruises on his head and body as a result. Toyota President Akio Toyoda personally apologised for the incident on YouTube, noting "there was some overconfidence" in the autonomous driving concept. "A vehicle is stronger than a person, so I was obviously worried about how they were," he explained in the clip, later noting that the crash "shows that autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads." "We are very sorry that the accident has made many people worried," Toyoda added. A Toyota spokesperson told Business Insider that there is no timetable for resuming the use of e-Palette vehicles at this time.