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Toyota Testing Inflatable Car at Alameda Point?

Last week, we asked our social media followers to share their funniest captions and comments for this photo Richard Bangert shot at Alameda Point of an inflatable Toyota:

Alameda Post - Inflatable Toyota spotted at Alameda Point

Out of all the suggestions we received, our favorites were:

  • Cata Morgana said the new car will “Easily deflate and fold for trips on public transit.”
  • Ani Dimusheva suggested, “This is a new tent for the homeless, to reduce the appearance of ‘blight.’”
  • Alex Vinson thought it could be a movie prop.
  • Kelvin Ng gave the correct answer of the purpose of the inflatable car, but when pressed further, he said, “A car I don’t feel bad crashing into.”
  • David Greene said, “Bet it deflates to a wad of useless fabric when the catalytic converter is cut out.”
  • And finally, Denise Ortega’s idea is that you should “Leave it in your driveway when on vacation, so crooks think someone is home.”

Autonomous vehicle testing

The intended function of the inflatable car, as Kelvin correctly pointed out, is for testing autonomous features for Toyota’s vehicles. If the self-driving system in the test car guesses wrong, it won’t be damaged in a collision with one of the inflatable dummies. Sadly, the inflatable models are not available for the public to purchase.

Alameda Post - Testing autonomous Toyotas at Alameda Point

This photo, shot at the same time and location by Richard Bangert, shows two Toyota sedans driving around Alameda Point. It doesn’t look as if the cars are occupied, but it’s difficult to be sure. Unusual devices are highlighted with red in the photo on the hood of one and the roof of the other. It’s thought these are components of Toyota’s self-driving technology. Toyota is one of many automobile manufacturers to take advantage of the space on the runways of the former Naval Air Station for testing their vehicles and prototypes.

Recently Toyota announced their Arene operating system for self-driving cars. However, the road to autonomous vehicles has been rocky for the Japanese conglomerate. Last year, Toyota was forced to suspend their self-driving program after an accident at Olympic Village in Tokyo.

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