Toyota Exploring Designs for Future City Mobility
Toyota is set to unveil its vision for a two-seater vehicle designed to zip around crowded city streets with zero pollution.
Dubbed the Toyota i-ROAD, it is a compact, emissions-free personal mobility concept capable of transporting two people in an urban environment.
An overhead image that was originally released by the car maker a few weeks ago reveals few details, although it indicates the concept – to be unveiled at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show – has a centrally located steering wheel.
The i-ROAD is the latest in a series of compact concepts Toyota has displayed over the past decade as part of its research into personal mobility.
They include the Toyota PM, i-Swing, i-unit and i-REAL. Toyota believes such personal mobility vehicles are part of the future of zero-emission urban transport.
The Toyota PM pictured above, first shown at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show, is a single-seat concept vehicle that aims to “fit like a glove” to create a feeling of unity between the driver and the vehicle.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications technologies are employed under the concept of “meeting, linking and hanging out together”.
The i-unit concept vehicle was developed for the Toyota Group Pavilion at EXPO 2005 in Japan.
Its technologies allow it to approach when you call it from your mobile phone, while the variable positioning system changes the vehicle’s height depending on its speed.
It recognises passengers by their palms and face. Its use of decomposable and recyclable materials and lithium-ion batteries aims to embody Toyota’s commitment to future environmental responsibility.
The single-person i-Swing, first shown at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, features a low-resistance urethane body and an LED illumination panel that can be customised to display an image to suit your mood.
The i-Swing can operate in two-wheel mode so it takes up little space in a busy street or three-wheel mode when there is a need to move quickly.
The i-Swing uses artificial intelligence technology to communicate with the driver through pop-up displays. The technology allows the vehicle to learn the driver’s behaviour patterns and select information based on this learning.
The i-REAL, which debuted at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, is another step towards commercialisation of a personal mobility vehicle.
The driver sits inside the i-REAL’s wraparound ‘armchair’ and steers by leaning left or right as required.
Power comes from an electric battery that drives the two front wheels, providing a 30km range from a single charge.
It uses three wheels (two at the front and one at the back) in low-speed mode, shortening its wheelbase to allow it to manoeuvre naturally among pedestrians at similar eyesight height without taking up a large amount of space.
In low-speed urban mode up to 6km/h, the i-REAL adopts an upright position with a shortened wheelbase. This makes travel in pedestrian environments viable by placing the driver’s line of sight with those of fellow pedestrians.
In high-speed cruising mode up to 30km/h, the i-REAL flattens out, extending its rear wheel backwards to provide a lower centre of gravity and better driving performance.
Perimeter sensors monitor pedestrians and objects, alerting the driver and others around the vehicle through a series of aural and visual alerts.