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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