September 18, 2021

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Toyota self-driving car collides with visually impaired athlete during the Paralympics

Toyota’s self-driving car barely moved, but managed to collide with a visually impaired athlete during the Paralympic Games.

It happened in the Paralympic Village

Toyota Motor Corporation has stopped all of its self-propelled electronic panel trucks operating during the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. The decision follows an accident yesterday in the Paralympic Village when a Toyota electronic panel crashed, injuring a visually impaired athlete.

Toyota is the sponsor of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In 2015, they signed an eight-year contract worth nearly $1 billion.

Level 4 Autonomous Driving

When the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were announced in the home of Toyota Japan, Toyota used the event to showcase new technology including the LQ self-driving concept and announced that it would implement up to twenty self-driving electronic panels during the Tokyo Olympics.

… not ready for public roads

Yesterday, however, Toyota shared proof that Level 4 self-driving technology is still not where it should be. An electronic board hit a pedestrian, who turned out to be a visually impaired athlete. The car was under the driver’s control using a joystick and had a speed of one to two kilometers per hour.

As a result of the accident, Toyota decided to turn off the self-driving electronic panels.

Toyota apologizes

The Toyota CEO apologized for the accident in a video posted on YouTube last Friday.

Judo practitioner with visual impairment

Toyota says the motorized vehicles are designed to move slowly for safety reasons, but that didn’t help visually impaired Japanese Paralympic judo athlete, Arimitsu Kitazuno, as he crossed a pedestrian crossing.

The car is more powerful than the human being.

At the time, the car was under manual control, which told police they “knew there was someone there, but thought he would realize that a car was coming and stopped,” according to the Japanese news agency Asahi.

We are very sorry and we know the incident has worried a lot of people. A car is more powerful than a person. The accident shows that self-driving vehicles are still unrealistic on ordinary roads.

Akio Toyoda, Toyota