Big global sports events with the likes of FIFA World Cup have been known to face one particular problem which is transport. And when it comes to the Olympics and Paralympics, a multitude of people gather to various venues in a bid to get a glimpse of their favourite track and field games and the hosting city’s infrastructure is put to the test. And while the likes of Paris might be going bigger with autonomous flying taxis, Tokyo also has a solution to this headache in partnership with the automotive manufacturer, Toyota.
The company revealed a new product on Thursday called APM (Accessible People Mover) specifically designed to ease the transportation issue during the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics games that will be held in Tokyo, Japan. According to Toyota, the main aim of these new vehicles to provide “mobility for all” and to solve the so-called “last mile” problem. This then means that Toyota’s view is to have vehicles that can transport as many people as possible, including elderly, pregnant women, families with young children and people with disabilities.
The company plans to deploy 200 of these all-electric vehicles, a fleet that will include two models; basic and relief. The basic model is a short-distance battery electric vehicle that will travel at low speeds and be used to transport visitors and staff to and from the Olympics grounds. Each of these Toyota APMs will have a capacity of six people including the driver and powered by lithium-ion batteries that can run for 100km on a single charge.
The relief model will be similar but will be used for emergencies, whereby the rows are movable to provide more space for a stretcher and two relief stretchers. In a bid to improve the bad reputation that these game events have when it comes to accessibility, both models will have ramps. This is an effort by the company to make the open-air vehicles convenient for the disabled.
All these measures set to be for the greater good may also seem as a result of the growing demand for the events’ tickets that has been described as record-breaking. This is considering the fact that previous games have had masses of tickets left unsold. But since the last time that Tokyo held the Olympics was 1964, it might seem reasonable why more people want to witness next year’s.
With the APMs just being a part of the plan, Toyota also unveiled eight other vehicles, as well as assistive robotics, all under the mobility for all moniker, including the e-Palette vehicle, which is basically a flexible blank slate on wheels with an electric motor and a fully modular interior design.
But alongside all this, the manufacturer has plans of demonstrating automated vehicles that will be able to handle all driving functions in certain well-defined areas in Tokyo as well as the TOYOTA Concept-i, a car that recognizes drivers’ emotions and preferences and can make conversation using artificial intelligence.