A visually-impaired Paralympic is now in a hospital due to the incident.
On Friday, Aug. 27, Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota company, posted an apology video on YouTube. This was after the brand’s self-driving bus– which had been currently used to transport athletes– got involved in a major accident. A visually impaired Paralympic athlete was rushed to a hospital after getting bumped by the said vehicle.
Toyota self-driving bus Paralympic accident
In a report from CNN, Toyota President Toyoda expressed shame over the recent incident of their self-driving bus in Paralympics. As posted on the official Toyota YouTube page, the official said that the company had “overconfidence” with the said vehicle.
As reported, the so-called “e-Palette” vehicles of Toyota were used by the Paralympics to transfer athletes all over the city. The said service was chosen because of its “handrails and seats that are easy to use regardless of the height and electric ramps for riders in wheelchairs.” Though the self-driving bus was helpful for most of the athletes. This was not the case for Japanese Paralympic judo athlete Arimitsu Kitazono.
According to the report, the Japanese athlete was crossing the road when the accident happened. The e-Palette bus was reportedly under “manual control” of an operator. As explained, the operator knew that there was a person in front of the vehicle. However, they thought that the person would move to pass the vehicle since it was moving at a “very low speed.”
Unfortunately, since Kitazono is a visually impaired man, he didn’t see the upcoming bus coming towards him. This has resulted in hurting his head and legs. Though the athlete survived the accident, his coach said that his player was forced to forfeit in the competition scheduled on the next day, Aug. 28.
“He wanted to take good care of himself. We feel regret, but I think he is the most disappointed,” said Kitozano’s coach, Yoshiyasu Endo.
Toyota CEO to pause e-Palette operation
Due to the incident, the Toyota CEO officially announced that the e-Palette operation would be halted in the meantime. This was in relation to the company’s investigation about the incident.
Toyoda also mentioned that he was worried when he heard about the news.
“We would like to express our sincerest apologies to the individual that was injured due to this unfortunate collision and we wish them a speedy recovery,” Toyota said in a statement. “We would also like to apologize for any inconvenience caused to those who use our mobility vehicles in the Athletes’ Village.”
Furthermore, Toyota CEO also claimed that after the said incident, “it shows that autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads.”
Will they face court trials?
Toyota reiterated that the incident will not be disregarded by the company nor the CEO. As of now, they said that they are working with Tokyo police and the Olympics management for a “thorough investigation.”
As of now, there are still no reports of whether Kitozano or his team would file a complaint against Toyota or even the Paralympics management.