A Toyota 'personal transport assistance robot' first glimpsed five years ago is finally hitting the streets in Japan - for extended testing of its safety and practicality in the real world. A selection of volunteer commuters who work in Tsukuba city's Mobility Robot Experimental Zone will be using the Toyota Winglet two-wheeled personal vehicle to gauge its usefulness from now until March 2016.
The model under test, the Winglet Long Type, is aimed at adults but Toyota have also designed and previously exhibited shorter units for teenagers and children. During the trials approximately 80 people who work in or around the science park will use the Winglets on sidewalks to commute to and from work and when going out during working hours. Other traffic and pedestrians will be present on these same roads and pathways.
Key specifications of the Toyota Winglet Long Type include:
- Top speed: 6Km/h
- Max running time: 1hr
- Crusing range: 4Km
- Charging time: 90 from zero to 100 per cent, or 60 minutes from zero to 80 per cent
The trials are hoped to pave the way for personal transport assistance robots like the Toyota Winglet being developed and precede "the realization of mobility-robot use on public thoroughfares". As noted by GizMag, Toyota is not alone in planning these Segway-like transport solutions. Three companies in China are making similar vehicles; Robostep Robotics have developed the Robin-M1 with a range of 20Km and top speed of 15Km/h, there's also the Chegway and another called the Windrunner.