Toyota Suspends Self-Driving Bus Use After One Strikes Paralympian Aramitsu Kitazono

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 29, 2021

This picture shows a Toyota logo next to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots and torch at a closed Toyota showroom in Tokyo on May 12, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)
PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota has suspended the use of its self-driving car fleet, otherwise known as e-Palette vehicles, after one of them struck visually impaired Japanese Paralympic judoka Aramitsu Kitazono, per Francis Agustin of Business Insider.

The Asahi Shimbun provided details on what happened to Kitazono, who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 2010:

"Kitazono was crossing a pedestrian crosswalk in the village that connects residential facilities and main dining halls at around 2 p.m. on Aug. 26. Then, a large electric vehicle made a right turn into the crosswalk and hit Kitazono. Kitazono struck his head and both legs and received treatment at a clinic inside the village, police said."
Oliver Brown @oliverbrown_tel

Not quite the seamless Paralympic experience that Tokyo had in mind as Aramitsu Kitazono, a Japanese judoka, is run over by a self-driving bus <a href="https://t.co/feataS9ZyC">https://t.co/feataS9ZyC</a>

Toyota released a statement regarding the incident, saying in part:

"Firstly, we would like to express our sincerest apologies to the individual that was injured due to this unfortunate collision and we wish them a speedy recovery. We would also like to apologize for any inconvenience caused to those who use our mobility vehicles in the Athletes' Village.
"All operations of the e-Palette are currently suspended. We are fully cooperating with the police investigation into the incident in order to determine the cause of this accident. In addition, we will conduct our own thorough investigation into the cause of the accident and we will continue to coordinate closely with the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to ensure that we prevent any incidents from occurring in the future."

Per Clare Duffy of CNN Business, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda also apologized for the incident.

According to Nikkei Asia (h/t Duffy), Kitazono arrived at the Tokyo Paralympic Games to compete in the men's judo 81-kilogram division.

However, Kitazono was unable to compete in the tournament. He was scheduled to face Ukraine's Dmytro Solovey in the Round of 16 on Saturday.

Kitazono's resume includes a fifth-place finish at the 2016 Paralympic Games in the 73 kg division and bronze at the 2018 Asian Paralympic Games.


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