Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Future Toyota Vehicle Seems Inspired by Homer Simpson

i-Real concept vehicle

Has the Segway found a new competitor? That is what engineers at Toyota are hoping for with their new i-Real concept vehicle. This latest innovation, being dubbed a "personal mobility concept", was recently shown off at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, and quite literally looks like a sofa on wheels. At last, something that the couch connoiseurs and Homer Simpsons of the world can truly appreciate!

The car operates on lithium-ion batteries and three wheels that propel the driver. You drive it by controlling two joysticks, one in each hand, and can push forwards to go forwards, left to go left, and so forth. What's interesting about the vehicle is that it has both a low speed and a high speed mode, capable of going up to about 20 MPH. In low speed mode, the vehicle sits upright, as pictured, and in high speed mode is tilted back to improve aerodynamic capability. It also has built in motion sensors, and can alert the driver if he or she is approaching an object or about to collide into surroundings.

When I first laid eyes on the i-Real, I thought I was watching a science fiction movie. It's crazy to think that a few decades ago we were watching movies that portayed ideas like this as the future, and now it's starting to actually happen!

Do you think this concept will make it to the assembly lines and then eventually to the families of consumers and perhaps those with disabilities? Or is it too sci-fi to be practical? Maybe we'll sooner see the "mood sensing" technology that Toyota is also working on!

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