Toyota Paralympics self-driving bus hits disabled athlete

Occurred: August 2021

A Toyota e-Palette self-driving bus used to ferry athletes during the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo hit a Japanese visually impaired athlete. 

Judo specialist Aramitsu Kitazono had been attempting to cross a street at a designated crossing within the Athletes Village when he was hit. He was suffered bruising to his head and leg, which required about two weeks of recovery time, and was left unable to compete. 

The autonomous bus had two human operators on board who were tasked with supervising its operation. The bus had stopped automatically just before the incident when it detected a security guard close to an intersection. Kitazono was hit as the bus made a right turn onto that intersection because the operators had assumed he would stop walking and pressed the start button to resume operation of the vehicle.

The Toyota e-Palette self-driving vehicle was being used as a shuttle bus for athletes but failed to stop as Kitazono was using a pedestrian crossing. The following day Toyota president Akio Toyoda apologised, before adding that 'It shows that autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads.'

The incident raised questions about the safety of Toyota self-driving vehicles.

Developer: Toyota
Country: Japan
Sector: Automotive
Purpose: Automate steering, acceleration, braking
Technology: Self-driving system
Issue: Safety; Accuracy/reliability  
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: August 2021
Last updated: June 2024