Toyota Patents Autonomous Workhorse That Can Help You Shop
Autonomous cars may seem like they're a look into the far-off future, but as far as things that automakers are designing, they're pretty tame. With its latest patent, Toyota's looking a little further into the future. Think along the lines of The Jetsons and you'll get the idea. The automaker's latest patent, which is described as a "Home Improvement Store Autonomous Workhorse" wants to go shopping with you and help deliver goods to your house.
Making Shopping Easier
Toyota's patent for the vehicle includes a list of what it can do to help you go shopping. It's easier to put the vehicle's capabilities in a hypothetical situation. Say you make a stop at your local hardware store, like Home Depot, Lowes, or Ace, and you bring your trusty subcompact vehicle with you as it's your only car. If you end up purchasing items that are too large for your car or you have too many items, you'd have to go rent a truck or ask the store to ship the items to your house, which is inconvenient. This is where Toyota's latest patent comes to help.
The "workhorse" will follow you throughout the store, will help you place all of the items you want inside of it, and then follow you home. Once you're done unloading all of your equipment from the vehicle, the machine will head back to the store on its own.
Since it's just a patent, there are a lot of things that are left to the imagination. Like what kind of powertrain the autonomous car will have, what other applications it could be used for, and how big it will be. There's only a little bit of information, but Toyota envisions this machine being a wide-reaching vessel. "The main body [of the AV] may resemble an automobile such as a car, a truck, a scooter, a boat, a Jet Ski, an aircraft, a golf cart, or the like," said the patent.
More Than Just A Shopping Cart
For the hypothetical scenario of a shopper purchasing items at a hardware store, the "workhorse" could even be equipped with a payment terminal, to make the shopping experience that much easier. And based on what kind of items you purchase, it could come with borrowable equipment, like "an air compressor, a dolly, [or] a nail gun" for you to use at home.
With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus and the need to not touch things and keep roughly six feet between one another, we can see this patent becoming popular. It's also a lot more convenient than having to push around a cart and rent a vehicle to be able to pack it full of all the things you need. But like many other patents, there's a slim chance that Toyota will actually build this thing before the end of the decade. Still, it's a cool look at what's possible.
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