Toyota is a formidable name in the automobile manufacturing industry, entering in the top 5 most fuel efficient vehicles in the car (Prius - 1st) and truck (Tacoma - 2nd) categories. Now Toyota makers are trying to tap into yet another area of the transportation market—personal transportation robots. In a Toyota Press release dated August 1, 2008, the mega-manufacturing company unveiled the development of the Toyota Winglet, “a personal transport assistance robot ridden in standing position.”
As you can see from the photos, the design is sleek and can be ridden with or without handles, depending on the size. The Winglet is controlled by internal sensors that monitor the user’s position and adjusts accordingly.
A Unique, as Toyota claims, parallel link mechanism allows riders to easily maneuver to turn and go in all different directions, including backwards. Due to it’s lightweight design (9.9-12.3 kgs), it’s ideal for small spaces. It also folds for easy toting.
While I can appreciate cool and fun technology, do we really need another excuse to be lazy? Can you envision walking about the supermarket or mall filled with Winglet riders? What about sidewalks? I foresee toes and bods being run over and rammed into by children and adults who aren’t paying attention, should the Winglet become a staple of society. You know, just like they do already in crowded stores and on sidewalks with the most ancient form of transport… walking.