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In a move that's sure to knock the Segway world off balance, Toyota has introduced its new "personal transport assistance robot" called the Winglet. Actually, there's three of them. One with a tall handle that could be seen as more practical and two other sportier models featuring supports gripped by the legs. They offer the same ease of use as the Dean Kaman-invented precursor but with a lot less bulk and a smaller footprint. They can reach speeds over 6 mph but they won't be cruising American sidewalks anytime soon. The devices are to undergo more consumer testing this Fall at a Japanese airport as well as a seaside resort. Early 2010 is the target date given for their earth-wide unleashing. Look them over in the gallery below in detail before hitting the jump for 3 videos worth of Winglet gone wild action as well as the official press release.


[Source: Toyota / YouTube / Engadget]















PRESS RELEASE

Toyota Develops Personal Transport Assistance Robot 'Winglet'

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today development of the "Winglet", a personal transport assistance robot ridden in a standing position. The Winglet-still being refined-is one of TMC's people-assisting Toyota Partner Robots. Designed to contribute to society by helping people enjoy a safe and fully mobile life, the Winglet is a compact next-generation everyday transport tool that offers advanced ease of use and expands the user's range of mobility. The Winglet consists of a body (with a projected area the size of an A3 sheet of paper) that houses an electric motor, two wheels and internal sensors that constantly monitor the user's position and make adjustments in power to ensure stability. Meanwhile, a unique parallel link mechanism allows the rider to go forward, backward and turn simply by shifting body weight, making the vehicle safe and useful even in tight spaces or crowded environments. TMC has created three models, the "L", "M" and "S", each having different handling features that allow consumers to select a model appropriate to their needs-from "practical" to "hands-free sporty". TMC plans various technical and consumer trials to gain feedback during the Winglet's lead-up to practical use. Practical tests of its utility as a mobility tool are planned to begin in Autumn 2008 at Central Japan International Airport (Centrair) near Nagoya, and Laguna Gamagori, a seaside marine resort complex in Aichi Prefecture. Testing of its usefulness in crowded and other conditions, and how non-users react to the device, is to be carried out in 2009 at the Tressa Yokohama shopping complex in Yokohama City. TMC is pursuing sustainability in research and development, manufacturing and social contribution as part of its concept to realize "sustainability in three areas" and to help contribute to the health and comfort of future society. Toyota Partner Robot development is being carried out with this in mind and applies TMC's approach to monozukuri ("making things"), which includes its mobility, production and other technologies. In a related development, TMC unveiled the "MOBIRO" mobility robot, designed for use in a sitting position, in 2007. TMC aims to realize the practical use of Toyota Partner Robots in the early 2010s by furthering its robotic development and strengthening collaboration between industry, government and academia.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 5 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      LOL! This is funny. A LESS-useful device, and it get's praised.
      I own two Segways - 12MPH is acceptable, 4MPH is ridiculous. It would take me HOURS to get to work on one of these. My Segway get's me there in about 30 min.
      Regarding pedestrians, I guess people have never actually USED a Segway PT in a crowded area. The wheel-base is the same width as your shoulders - not taking up any extra space there.
      This is Japan's attempt to 1up America for once and failing. Nice idea though, but really, at that speed you might as well walk. This actually DOES replace walking. The Segway PT replaces a car.
        • 7 Years Ago
        So you walk/bicycle to work EVERY DAY do you?
        That's a way to get exercise. A Segway PT is a way to get somewhere if you don't have a shower on the other end and have to go more than a mile (5 miles for me).
        $10k = half a good car. Of course, I don't have insurance, gasoline, maintenance, etc required for my transportation - something that IS required for a car.
        I'm just laughing that people hate alternative modes of transportation that DON'T make you exercise. It intrigues me. With that logic we should hate all motorcycles, mass transit, etc.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You seem to be mistaken, a segway is a completely useless device in the first place.

        It does not replace a car. It replaces a bicycle, walking, or taking mass transit in an incredibly stupid and expensive way (I can do a lot more good for the environment with that $10k you've spend on segways).
      • 7 Years Ago
      The spec sheet says the small one has a range of 5 k. and the two larger ones a range of 10 k., but all three have a speed of 6 kph, which is a bit less fun than 6 mph, but these look more useful than the Segway by far. The reduced size and the lower height make them easier to maneuver around other pedestrians and reduce the impact when you fall, because you will fall eventually. I can really see me using one to roll 2 miles to the subway, then lock it up in a covered bike box converted for the Winglets. The crucial thing is the size, it is really convenient, much more so than a Segway. 4 mph is a brisk walk, so it won't feel like I am dawdling, but 6 mph would be nice. And even at 6 mph they wouldn't be as much of a pain as Segways are among pedestrians. Wonder if they use regenerative braking, almost pointless at this speed I would guess.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That could never fly in the USA since Americans would find standing and balancing too much effort. Imagine the core strength necessary to have to balance a little.

      The US market could get big ol' Hummer tires and a Schwinn double-wide gel seat, cup holder, feed bag.