Resumption of services of the Toyota e-Palette vehicle and additional safety measures at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Athletes’ Village
Having taken steps to ensure greater safety and security, Toyota announces that The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has decided to resume operations of the e-Palette mobility vehicle within the Athletes’ Village.
Operations of mobility services were suspended in response to an incident that occurred at the Athletes’ Village on Thursday, August 26, 2021, when the e-Palette collided with a visually impaired pedestrian.
To ensure safe and secure traffic flow at the Athletes’ Village, there are three crucial elements: pedestrians, vehicles, and infrastructure including guides. By analyzing this incident from the perspective of these three elements, together with the Organising Committee, Toyota has determined additional safety measures
The pedestrian was a visually impaired person who was walking alone. When the pedestrian tried to cross the intersection, the individual came into contact with a vehicle passing through the intersection.
When the vehicle was turning right, upon entering the intersection, it detected a person in the intersection and stopped. Then, after the operator confirmed conditions were safe, the operator started the vehicle, moving again towards the intersection. The operator checked the situation around the intersection and manually started to decelerate. The vehicle’s sensor detected a pedestrian coming towards the intersection and activated the automatic brakes. The operator also applied the emergency brakes. However, a collision occurred with the vehicle and the pedestrian before the vehicle managed to come to a complete stop.
The Infrastructure Including Guides
At the time of the collision, there were only two guide persons at the intersection. Given that there were no traffic signals, and especially in a situation like the Paralympics where there are a diverse range of people, it was not possible for guide persons to check the movements of all pedestrians and vehicles moving in multiple directions. In addition, there was not a sufficient mechanism for coordination between guides and vehicle operators.
As a result, the pedestrian entering the intersection came into contact with the vehicle.
Based on the thorough verification of these facts, Toyota, together with the Organising Committee, has determined that ensuring safety at an intersection without signals is not something that can be handled by pedestrians, operators, or guides alone. It is necessary for all three parties to work together.
Therefore, the following measures are to be implemented, which will be continuously improved on a daily basis:
Improved Safety Measures
The Organizing Committee will reiterate the specifics of the walking environment in the Athletes’ Village and the rules for moving around in the Village at the Athletes’ Team Leaders’ Meeting and will do so at other opportunities.
Toyota will increase the volume of the vehicles’ approach-warning sounds, improve system for manual driving, and educate operators in order to respond to the safety needs of the diverse range of people unique to the Paralympics. These include:
- Automatic driving – implement a change to manual acceleration/deceleration and stopping
- Increase the volume of the approach-warning sounds
- Increase the number of crew members
The Infrastructure Including Guides
Increasing the number of guides and enhancing the capacity. Specifically, for operations that appear to be the same as for the Olympic Games, guides should receive training to meet the diverse needs of pedestrians which are unique to the Paralympics. Examples include:
- Establish a system that can work instead of traffic signals to safely guide vehicles and pedestrians.
- Increase the number of guides at intersections (from the current 6 to over 20)
- Segregate guides into two groups, one specifically for vehicles and the other specifically for pedestrians.
After taking these measures, ensuring time for the training of on-site personnel, and conducting test runs, the Organising Committee determined mobility operations to be resumed from 3:00 pm on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
Toyota will continue to make improvements on a daily basis, even after the resumption of operations, until the closing of the Athletes’ Village for the Paralympic Games and will continue to cooperate with the Organizing Committee to ensure the safety and security of the athletes and other people involved in the Village.