The Winglet consists of a body (with a projected area the size of an A3 sheet of paper) that houses an electric motor, two wheels and internal sensors that constantly monitor the user's position and make adjustments in power to ensure stability. Meanwhile, a unique parallel link mechanism allows the rider to go forward, backward and turn simply by shifting body weight, making the vehicle safe and useful even in tight spaces or crowded environments.
Toyota has created three models, the "L", "M" and "S", each having different handling features that allow consumers to select a model appropriate to their needs - from "practical" to "hands-free sporty".
The company plans various technical and consumer trials to gain feedback during the Winglet's lead-up to practical use. Practical tests of its utility as a mobility tool are planned to begin in Autumn 2008 at Central Japan International Airport (Centrair) near Nagoya, and Laguna Gamagori, a seaside marine resort complex in Aichi Prefecture. Testing of its usefulness in crowded and other conditions, and how non-users react to the device, is to be carried out in 2009 at the Tressa Yokohama shopping complex in Yokohama City.
Toyota aims to realize the practical use of Toyota Partner Robots in the early 2010s by furthering its robotic development and strengthening collaboration between industry, government and academia. (mp/wga)
Update: Video added