Saturday, November 15, 2008

Toyota i-unit mobility device: Is it something gone missing from Cirque du Soleil, or is it Elton John's new wheelchair?

From a Toyota press release:

i-unit (Toyota)
The “i-unit” is a form of “personal mobility” that seeks to attain a greater balance of meeting individuals’ wishes to enjoy freedom of movement, harmony with society, and harmony with the Earth’s natural environment.

“Expanding Human Abilities”This union of driver and vehicle is intended to expand human abilities and possibilities.

“Inspire the Individual”Making a better world with mobility leading the way to a greater bond between people and the planet. Movement expands our world by creating possibilities and encounters among nature, society, people and culture. Movement brings us new sensations, discoveries and acquaintances, enabling individuals to lead fuller lives and cultivating a sense of belonging with the planet.

Design Theme
“The Leaf”The design, inspired by the leaf that converts sunlight into life energy, seeks to express the power of the unknown, the logic of living things and the simple beauty of waste-free functionality.

Main Features
  1. Mobility with an Ultra Compact SizeThe “i-unit” creates a seamless transformation between vehicle and human movement, minimizing occupied space and energy consumption with its lightweight and ultra compact size.
  2. Variable Positioning
    The i-unit has a compact size enabling the passenger to move among other people in an upright position in low speed mode, and a low center of gravity that ensures stable handling when the vehicles reclines in high speed mode.
  3. Ease of Operation
    Drive ControllerDrive-by-wire technology and intuitive handling enable the passenger to maneuver on-the-spot turns and drive at high speed at will.
    IT ControllerA driver support information system uses sound, light and vibration to facilitate interactive communication.
  4. Driver Support System
    The driver support system features Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technology, which Toyota hopes to utilize for an accident-free society. The system permits efficient and safe autopilot driving in specially equipped lanes.
  5. “My-unit”A personalized recognition system can provide information and music, and body color can be customized, according to the individual’s preferences and emotions.
  6. Environmentally Friendly Body MaterialsThe body is built using environmentally friendly plant-based materials such as kenaf.

I don't know about you...but this looks a lot like a "glitzed-up" version of the iBOT mobility device designed by Dean Kamen and developed by J&J's Independence Technology division.

But the real question has to you have to wear the goofy silver suit to drive an i-unit?

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