Toyota Using Hydrogen Fuel Cells & AI to Mobilize 2020 Olympics

Toyota is outlining its concept for its mobility services during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology and artificial intelligence.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Toyota plans to provide free movement to everyone — including those with impairments — throughout the games, as well as sustainable energy use based on hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

The number of foreign tourists is expected to rise steadily in advance of the Olympic games two years from now, with Japanese transport minister Keiichi Ishii telling the Straits Times the government was taking steps to accelerate the effort toward hitting 40 million visitors by 2020.

Some of the deployed vehicles will feature Highway Teammate, an automated driving safety feature that allows hands-off driving on the highway, and is rated for Level 2 automation.

The company will also support the movement of official staff and athletes to and from events with a bevy of information applications and connected vehicle platforms, such as vehicle Data Communication Modules connected to its Mobility Service Platform.

Vehicles for official use will be equipped with active safety technology packages such as Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) and Lexus Safety System+, as well as a technology called Parking Support Brake, designed to help prevent collisions that can occur in parking lots and garages.

In addition to FCEVs, such as the Mirai sedan, and the fuel cell bus — dubbed Sora — Toyota also plans to use forklifts powered by fuel cells to help at the games.

Before the games start, the automaker expects to introduce over 100 fuel cell buses, which sport eight high-definition cameras and an acceleration control function.

Toyota plans to have a fleet of two-wheeled vehicles on hand as well, such as the i-Road, as well as a standing-riding device to support working staff like security officers at the games.

The company also plans to showcase verification testing and demonstrations of Level 4 automated vehicles for the duration of the games.

Level 4 automation means all driving functions are performed by the vehicle, though they will be restricted to specific areas in the Tokyo Water Front City and Haneda areas in Tokyo.

Among the vehicles on display will be the “Concept-i” series, which uses AI to help cars understand the driver, and the e-Palette, a battery electric vehicle specially designed for mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) .

The e-Palette will also provide transportation services for athletes and affiliated guests around the Athletes’ Village.

Earlier this year, Toyota entered into a partnership with JapanTaxi, Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI and consulting firm Accenture to begin trials on a taxi dispatch support system using location-based big data gathered from smartphones.

Over time, the AI system will be able to learn from previous data sets to even more accurately predict where taxis will be needed and when, while the tablets in the taxis will show drivers where future occupied and unoccupied taxis are located.

Toyota plans to roll out dozens more taxis equipped with the system this year as it moves towards a full-fledged deployment of the technology — and a big presence at the Olympics two years from now as well.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209.

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