Published July 26, 2013
Toyota’s next big thing is pretty tiny.
The Winglet personal transport assistance robot is a Segway-like vehicle currently undergoing testing in Japan.
The self-balancing, two-wheel vehicle allows a rider to simply step on it then lean in the direction they want to go.
Much more compact than the Segway, the Winglet is envisioned to be used on sidewalks and even inside buildings.
The electrically-powered vehicle has a top speed of just 3.7 mph -- about as fast as a brisk stroll -- and can run for up to one hour per charge.
Toyota will be evaluating it in real-world conditions over the next few years in the city of Tsukuba, which has been designated as a Mobility Robot Experimental Zone, to determine its functionality, safety and potential market demand.
Although it remains in production and has found some success as a niche product with commercial and tourism applications, the Segway never lived up to the hype surrounding its introduction in 2001 due to a combination of its high $5,000 price and restrictions on where it can be used.