Why Walk? Electric Toyota Winglet Gives Those Legs A Rest

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Toyota Winglet electric mobility assistance robot

Toyota Winglet electric mobility assistance robot

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Japanese automakers may have cultivated a reputation for occasionally churning out dull, forgettable vehicles, but they certainly make up for it in other ways.

Take Nissan, for example. Its bread and butter may be the Versa, but it's also given us the Juke, and the supercar-slaying GT-R. Honda might crank out Civics by the hundred thousand, but they've also given us the NSX, the first-generation Insight and the S2000.

And then there's Toyota. Pick one color to describe the Camry, and you'd probably select beige. But in Japan, the automaker is developing something positively neon--the Winglet.

Okay, maybe neon is a bit strong, but the Winglet serves a noble purpose, as an aid (or a replacement) for walking along Japan's crowded city streets.

Toyota calls it a mobility assistance robot, which sounds more futuristic than the Winglet's Segway-lite styling suggests. Actually, it's not futuristic in the slightest--Toyota first presented the concept in 2008.

But now, it's testing them in field trials, with eighty local authority workers and employees of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, ensuring it's safe enough to be used among pedestrians.

We can't see safety being a major concern, with a top speed of only 3.5 miles per hour. You'll only go around six miles at this speed too, though realistically people will probably just unfurl the Winglet from the trunk of their cars and use it to travel a few hundred yards from a car park to their place of work.

As a zero-emissions electric vehicle (with a one-hour charging time), Toyota also sees it as suitable for indoor use, such as airport terminals and office complexes. Well, racing a couple of these down the hallway is probably more entertaining than skiing along on office chairs.

Winglet will be assessed for safety, convenience, practicality and public reaction (hilarity, we're guessing) over its three-year trial, at which point it'll probably go into production.

Hmm. Give us Razor's Crazy Cart any day. Or maybe even that Camry...


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Comments (7)
  1. One thing if for sure. In three years time, those two guys are going to weigh about 30-40 more pounds than they do now. Ride a bike or walk.

  2. @Charles Ellis: There are some of us that can't do that because of arthritis.

  3. Sorry. Didn't mean to sound callous. They should have people with limited mobility testing the device. Those two look young and healthy to me. I think it sets a bad example.

  4. Any number of reasons. For me it would be getting to the office drenched with sweat from the 200 yard walk from the car. Also the number of buildings (100's)with numerous 100 yard hallways. In three years will do 5 MPH for 2 hours, so can be used to go to the store or coffee shop as well.

  5. should tell that to the billions who drive their car for breakfast,lunch,dinner, supper...

  6. Looks like a Segway copy. I bet they will sell some in Japan and not too many here in the USA. Plus why would you really want one in the real world unless you were working in a warehouse or some other large building where you have walk long distances. Why not just use an electric cart? Small electric cart can hold more than one rider and go faster too. Too many Americans are morbidly Obese and walking is perhaps the best exercise out there so I feel if you are able to walk then do so. I can see some limited uses however for it in certain things that require large amounts of walking such as in a warehouse. Perhaps Weird Al sums it up best
    They see me roll on, my Segway!
    I know in my heart they think I'm
    white n' nerdy!

  7. OTOH, why not walk?

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