Toyota’s Winglet, a two-wheeled personal mobility robot, will start testing its safety and practicality features in the real world starting today, and until March 2014. The 80 test subjects will be able to test them in Tsukuba city’s Mobility Robot Experimental Zone, a place designated for this kind of trials in Ibaraki Prefecture.
This is just the first phase of its trial period, which will be focusing on testing its safety and compatibility with other real-world components, like pedestrians and other vehicles and traffic. The test subjects are coming from the local municipality and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and will be able to ride the Winglets on sidewalks while commuting to and from work, and then they get to report on their experiences. For now, they would have to comply with the road and traffic rules for bicycles and scooters. Toyota will be assessing the results of the study in terms of the robot’soverall functionality and convenience. They will also be able to determine whether a demand for something like this will become feasible.
The Winglet is a smaller and more stylish version of the Segway electric scooter that was launched in the US way back in 2001, but never got off the ground. But Toyota’s version may find more success in the more densely-populated cities of Japan, especially since people are always looking now for more eco-minded concept vehicles. If tests are successful and if they plan to release the Winglet commercially, then the next step would be to broaden laws that will encompass vehicles like it.