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Hyperdrive Daily: The Driverless Shuttle Helping Toyota Win Gold

Toyota’s e-Palette vehicles during a media tour at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Toyota’s e-Palette vehicles during a media tour at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
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Welcome to the Hyperdrive daily briefing, decoding the revolution reshaping the auto world, from EVs to self-driving cars and beyond.

On a man-made island in Tokyo Bay, a self-driving shuttle weaves through the Olympic flag-strung buildings of the Games Village. It’s a curious sight — this autonomous, battery-powered, boxy vehicle looks like a futuristic shipping container on wheels. I happened to see one on an early morning visit last week to a park across the water, my first glimpse of one of Toyota’s e-Palettes in action. They’re being used to ferry athletes and staff around the Olympic site and for months leading up to the big event could be spotted practicing their driverless motoring in silent automated loops.