Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, the Toyota COMS electric vehicle is becoming the Smart INSECT. Unrelated to Daimler's Smart brand, the INSECT (yes, it's an acronym, one that stands for "Information Network Social Electric City Transporter") is a one-seat electric vehicle that is designed to be connected to its driver and the world. The gullwinged INSECT uses "motion sensors, voice recognition and behavior prediction" to make the driver feel tied to the wheels, as well as to his or her home via the online Toyota Smart Center. The doors can open based on "the movement of the driver's hand." The car can also identify faces and "authenticate a driver registered with the vehicle when he or she approaches." This thing should have antennae.

Toyota will first display the INSECT at CEATEC JAPAN 2012 next week (think: Japan's version of our Consumer Electronics Show). Earlier reports hinted that Toyota's then-unnamed small EV would cost around $12,500, but Toyota did not talk about an MSRP in the teaser release issued today. You can find it below.
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TMC Announces Next-generation Communications-linked Concept Model 'Smart INSECT' to Be Displayed at CEATEC JAPAN 2012

Toyota City, Japan, September 28, 2012-Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces the "Smart INSECT"*, a next-generation communications-linked concept model that uses information technology (IT) services to support its driver's lifestyle and activities.

The Smart INSECT is an ultra-compact, single-passenger electric vehicle (EV) based on the "COMS" EV produced by TMC subsidiary Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd. It is equipped with technologies such as motion sensors, voice recognition and behavior prediction, required for next-generation communications-linked services. The Smart INSECT, which connects with its driver and his or her home via the cloud-based Toyota Smart Center, embodies the concept of services that communicate with users to support the convenient, comfortable use of cars in their daily lives.

The Smart INSECT will be displayed and demonstrated at the Toyota Booth at CEATEC JAPAN 2012, an advanced technologies exhibition to be held from October 2 through October 6 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City, Japan.

Main Functions of the Smart INSECT Concept Model
  1. The Smart INSECT's front-mounted motion sensors use facial-recognition technology to detect and authenticate a driver registered with the vehicle when he or she approaches.
  2. The vehicle communicates with the driver by flashing the front lights and greeting the driver via the instrument panel monitor, for example, with "Hello" and other displayed phrases and spoken responses.
  3. The motion sensors detect the driver's movements, opening the door according to the movement of the driver's hand.
  4. A "virtual agent" at the Toyota Smart Center recognizes the driver's voice and, through communication with the driver, predicts his or her intentions, setting the destination and operating various functions of the vehicle, such as the fog lamps and audio system.
  5. Smartphone navigation and content can be operated by voice command via the virtual agent.
  6. Through the virtual agent and voice commands, the driver can, for example, check and operate the locks and air conditioners of his or her home from within the vehicle.

*An acronym for "information network social electric city transporter". The name aims to convey an image of a small insect that flies around on large wings, in the same way as the vehicle freely navigates through and uses an information network.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      Timothy Tibbetts
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cute. Missing a seat.
        Ziv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Timothy Tibbetts
        Exactly. It doesn't have to be luxurious, but a second seat is important.
      Ducman69
      • 2 Years Ago
      Never believe the prices. They always list a ridiculously low price, but as the vehicle even approaches the realm of production its triple that after huge delays. Seen it time and time again, the latest example being the Aptera. They fell short of just about everything promised, despite drastically rising fuel costs, and ultimately just blew all the investment money they received. AND they actually had a running working prototype, so don't give this anymore credit than a random doodle.
      Frank
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is starting to look like a contest to come up with the ugliest car possible. Screw the milage, Lets have cars that do not look like cockroaches. This environmental stuff is BS anyway. There is plenty of oil in the US to put the Arabs to shame, and even if pollution is a threat, (there is no definative proof) China and the rest of the world is not going to do a damn thing to curtail their use. Why should we go back to the dark ages?
        Daniel D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Frank
        I think what you are trying to say is that Toyota just threatened your manhood.
      rocketmoose
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jesus Christ how horrifying
      David
      • 2 Years Ago
      My car's doors can also open "based on the movement of the driver's hand." I place my hand on the handle; I pull; the door opens. Imagine!
      limstillme
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would feel a lot safer on my Harley.
      turbomonkey2k
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why does a single seat car need two doors?
        Temple
        • 2 Years Ago
        @turbomonkey2k
        Why not, why would you want to exit and enter from one side. Do you expect them to make two versions. One for left hand and right hand drivers that are used to entering from different sides of the car? Its a $12.5k EV, its primarily meant as a urban delivery vehicle. Which is why it has that storage area in the back. This would be a good delivery vehicle for commercial deliver in very highly congested urban areas (as it would be between a bike and a car). More importantly, these EVs aren't classified as cars in Europe (as long as they don't make above IIRC 15hp). Meaning they are dirt cheap to operate. Renault/Nissan have something similar, but instead of having the storage area they made it longer and made it a car for two (one seat in the back behind the other). If Toyota decides on making one they may even offer a two seat version.
          GoodCheer
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Temple
          Well, the reason why not is that more moving parts means more weight and complexity, a greater parts count, and greater cost. The convenience of getting out on either side probably outweighs those things for most buyers though.
        Reptile
        • 2 Years Ago
        @turbomonkey2k
        No, they're WINGS ;)
        turbomonkey2k
        • 2 Years Ago
        @turbomonkey2k
        Never mind, When it inevitably tips over you'll need the door on the up side to escape.
        limstillme
        • 2 Years Ago
        @turbomonkey2k
        "Why does a single seat car need two doors?' For an emergency exit?
      Chianna
      • 2 Years Ago
      A very good looking INSECT. Will this insect invade America? wait until $7.00 a gallon, then insect will take over the land. I think Taiwan should be the first to launch INSECT.
      HAT1701D
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hmmm...one seat but a gull-wing door assembly? Why? That is unnessecary. Either have just one door...a driver's side ( depending on the country for which it is to be sold in ) or a single "canopy" style that slides open.....
      TerriLand
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hope it works better than their version of a navigation system. The one in the Prius says to turn left when you know it's a right turn or right when it's a left turn. It tells you the wrong exit to get off on the freeway. I just stopped using it and started to use my old garmin.
      LEONARD
      • 2 Years Ago
      i say vaporware they already canceled the iq ev :(
      JoanneVLavender
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cute--but god forbid you'd have to pick up kids at school, take them to soccer practice, run to the supermarket, pick up drycleaing, stop at the hardware big box stores for ANYTHING bigger than a hammer...and all the other things we do in our cars.
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