Toyota has been continuously doing their part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. A few weeks back, the automaker announced that they have started building personal protective equipment (PPE) and will be distributing them to front liners in Japan. Even earlier, they introduced a sort of ride-hailing app for doctors in South East Asia.
Now, Toyota has taken another step to assist in the global crisis by building special transporters to ferry seriously-ill COVID-19 patients.
The transporter in question is based on a high-roof version of the Toyota Hiace. According to Toyota, it has been developed to be an “airborne droplet circulation control vehicle.” It features an interior barrier protecting the front passenger compartment from the rear compartment, which houses the patient. An exhaust fan will then continuously expel air out of the vehicle. This will prevent the air in the rear compartment to circulate into the front passenger compartment, possibly affecting the driver.
But perhaps the key feature is a motorized elevator for the gurney, making it easier to get the patient into the vehicle and with less human effort.
At the moment, there is only one unit of the specially-converted Hiace unit in service and was donated to the Showa University Hospital, Tokyo, joining the carmaker's initial fleet of transport aid. Aside from the Hiace, Toyota has provided ten other transport vehicles to medical facilities and local governments across Japan in order to transport mildly infected patients.
The automaker intends to continue building more special transporters for medical facilities and local governments across Japan in the coming weeks and months. This is part of the automaker’s Kokoro Hakobu Project which has been the automaker’s nationwide initiative to “provide continuous and long-term support to disaster-affected areas in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake”.
Hopefully, we get to see some of these special Hiace units make their way outside of Japan to nations that need help with COVID-19 patient transport