Toyota testing 'Winglet' personal commuter vehicle on Japan's sidewalks
Testing of the 'Winglet' is shown in this image taken from a YouTube video posted by Toyota.
Andy Johnson, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013 11:56AM EDT
Toyota is testing a new personal commuter vehicle that it hopes will revolutionize the way people get around.
The automaker is currently testing out the new vehicle, dubbed the "Winglet," on Japanese sidewalks before debuting it to international markets.
Scroll down to watch video of the testing.
Toyota says the “next-generation mobility robot,” which is similar to the Segway PT, was created with the goal of “contributing to the development of a society where mobility is safe, freely accessible, and fun."
The battery-powered, self-balancing electric Winglet is ridden in a stand-up position, with a steering pillar-and-wheel combination used to control the speed and direction of travel. Earlier evolutions relied on an awkward knee-steering system that Toyota appears to have now done away with.
Testing is taking place in Tsukuba, Japan, and will continue until March, 2016.
"The Winglet... offers users outstanding operability and performance that expands the user’s world, with a compact size and ease of use suited to modern living environments," according to a statement released by Toyota.
The company wants to know how well the vehicle performs in a public setting, interacting with pedestrians and other city traffic.
Winglet's closest competitor is the Segway PT, built by New Hampshire-based Segway Inc.
Made famous by the "Arrested Development" character George Oscar Bluth Jr., the Segway is used by tour groups, security guards and as a quick and agile form of transportation within industrial complexes.