Toyota reveals 'Winglet' assistance robots, Segways beware [w/VIDEO]

Click above for high-res gallery of Toyota's Winglets

Toyota's bid to completely take over the world with robots is getting ever closer to fruition. Its latest endeavor is intended to place mankind on moving platforms -- very Segway-esque. Coming in Small, Medium and Large sizes, Toyota's Winglet places its riders in a standing position, likely to dissuade notions of the future portrayed in Pixar's recent Wall-E movie in which humans spent their time in more relaxed positions. Powered by an electric motor, the Winglet's two wheels are closely monitored by on-board sensors that constantly adjust the movements of the machine to keep everything upright. At just 6 kilometers per hour it ain't very vest and can't go too far with its 5-10 kilometer range, but it makes up for these issues by taking just one hour to charge. Testing is currently underway, with human trials expected to begin this Autumn in Japan. Presumably after that there'll be a version with handle bar-mounted guns that's able to round up humans in a pen. Check out the video of Toyota's winglet in action after the jump.

[Source: Toyota]


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.
Outline of Winglet

Model "S" "M" "L"

Length (mm) 265 265 265
Width (mm) 464 464 464
Height (mm) 462 680 1,130
Weight (kg) 9.9 12.3
Maximum cruising
speed (km/h)
Turning radius (m) 0 (able to rotate within its own space)
Cruising range* (km) 5 10
Charging time 1 hour (full charge)
*Varies with surface condition and user weight

The video meant to be presented here is no longer available. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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