Miniature remote controlled cars have proved to be a crowd-pleaser at track and field throwing events, but for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Toyota Motor Corp is upping the game with a hi-tech way to fetch javelins and hammers: pint-sized, self-driving A.I. robot cars. The Japanese automaker unveiled a prototype of its next-generation field support robot, a miniature shuttle bus-shaped contraption based on its “e-Palette” ride-sharing vehicle under development, to be used at the Tokyo Games.
The vehicle, roughly the size of a toddler`s ride-on toy car, can travel at a maximum speed of 20 kilometres per hour and sports three cameras and one lidar sensor which enable it to “see” its surroundings. Draped around the top of its body is a band of LED lights which illuminate when the vehicle uses artificial intelligence to follow event officials towards the equipment hurled by athletes onto the pitch during shot put, discus throw, hammer throw and javelin events.
After the equipment, which can weigh as much as eight kilograms for hammers, is loaded into the vehicle by the official, a press of a button located towards its front sends the car zipping back to athletes for later use. “Humans are better suited to picking up heavy equipment from the field, but for quickly transporting them to their respective return depots, that`s a job that`s best performed by robots,” Takeshi Kuwabara, a project planning manager who oversaw the robot`s development, told reporters.