THINK (AND RIDE) OUT­SIDE THE BOX

Torque (Singapore) - - NEWS -

Two of the world’s big­gest au­tomak­ers – Volk­swa­gen and Toy­ota – are ex­per­i­ment­ing with boxy cars in the in­creas­ingly busy sand­box of au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles. Their most re­cent boxes of driver­less tricks are the Sedric School Bus (be­low) and the e-Pal­ette. The new­est ver­sion of the VW Sedric (short for Self Driv­ing Car) is a de­sign ex­er­cise that makes the school run more fun for chil­dren and less te­dious for their par­ents. With the Sedric’s OneBut­ton mo­bil­ity app, which “hails” the self-driv­ing elec­tric shut­tle to pro­vide a doorto-door trans­fer any­time within its ra­dius of op­er­a­tion, even pri­mary-school kids can hitch a lit­tle bus ride home eas­ily and safely.

They will like the ride, too, thanks to the Sedric cabin’s stylised graf­fiti, stick­ered multi-pur­pose boxes and large OLED screen to pro­vide on­board en­ter­tain­ment – maybe

The Magic School Bus.

The e-Pal­ette (right) is Toy­ota’s “blank box” con­cept, which pro­vides a flex­i­ble plat­form for part­ner com­pa­nies to cre­ate and de­ploy pur­pose-built au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles that help their busi­nesses and serve their cus­tomers. E-com­merce gi­ant Ama­zon, restau­rant chain Pizza Hut and ride-shar­ing tech firms Uber and Didi, along with au­tomaker Mazda, are col­lab­o­rat­ing with Toy­ota on the e-Pal­ette pro­gramme.

The ve­hi­cle is fully au­to­mated, bat­tery­pow­ered and read­ily cus­tomis­able, and it comes with an open-source con­trol in­ter­face, a set of soft­ware tools and the nec­es­sary road safety sys­tems. The low-floor, cube-shaped in­te­rior with a choice of three sizes has the “empty” ver­sa­til­ity to be out­fit­ted ac­cord­ing to busi­ness or vo­ca­tional needs.

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