Toyota has just unveiled the ‘Winglet’, one of its ‘people-assisting Partner Robots’. It isn’t exactly a car per se, but it has wheels, a motor, and it is a valid alternative to walking. It even has its own ‘trim’ levels – ‘S’, ‘M’ and ‘L’ (from left to right in our pictures). These range from ‘practical’ (with the long handle) to ‘hands-free sporty’. To us they’re pretty cool, especially when you consider what Toyota usually turns out.
This isn’t Toyota’s first motorised transport device though is it?
Correct, as the Japanese manufacturer unveiled the i-Real concept at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, which was a three-wheeled seat for one. But while the i-Real uses joysticks to move around, on the Winglet it’s simply a case of shifting your body weight in the direction you wish to travel.
Each Winglet is no bigger than an A3 piece of paper, and all have a heady top speed of nearly 4mph. Not as fast as a car, granted, but pedestrians average 3mph so the Winglet is perfect for the hustle and bustle of the city. And you can travel for up to 10km (depending on the ‘driver’s’ weight) before the Winglet will run out of battery charge. It’s then just a simple case of plugging the Winglet into the mains for one hour, and then you’re ready to go again.
So when can I get a Winglet?
Toyota is going to be trialling the Winglet with the general population at Tokyo airport in the coming months, and is hoping to have its Partner Robots in use by the early 2010s. Although Toyota isn’t able to name a price at this time, the aim is to significantly undercut the Segway Personal Transporter, which starts at around £4400. Okay, so it’s still not as cheap as walking – but what would you rather do?
What do you think of the new Toyota Winglet? Would you rather walk or glide? Click ‘Add your comment’ below and have your say.