Toyota restarts driverless shuttles after Paralympics accident forced athlete to withdraw from event

Toyota has restarted its autonomous shuttle service at the Tokyo Paralympics following a collision with a visually impaired athlete.

The e-Palette self-driving vehicle was suspended last week after the vehicle struck Aramitsu Kitazono, who was forced to withdraw from Saturday’s 81kg judo category, but did not suffer major injuries.

Kitazono was scheduled to make his third appearance in the competition for Japan before the accident.

The driverless vehicle reportedly struck Kitazono when he was using a pedestrian crossing in the Olympic village.

While the athlete’s injuries – affecting his head and both legs – were not serious, it is expected he will take two weeks to recover from them.


The vice president of the Japanese Paralympic Committee said that the athlete had withdrawn from the event on the advice of medics, and said there was a possibility he had suffered a concussion.

Toyota‘s chief executive Akio Toyoda apologised for the “overconfidence” of the autonomous vehicle, and announced that the service was being suspended.

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Kitazano, who was described as confused after the incident, was initially unsure if the vehicle had actually struck him and medics did not know whether his injuries were caused by the collision or by him falling down.

In an update, Toyota said: “The vehicle’s sensor detected the pedestrian crossing and activated the automatic brake, and the operator also activated the emergency brake.”

“The vehicle and pedestrians, however, came into contact before it came to a complete halt,” the company added, confirming that a collision had taken place.

Tokyo 2020 also apologised and confirmed that police were investigating the incident.