Tuesday November 4, 2003 Toyota revealed its radical vision for the future of single-person transport at the Tokyo Motor Show. Drive-by-wire navigation, interactive communications via a holographic display and the ability to change shape according to speed or autonomously follow other vehicles are among the innovations showcased in the PM concept (short for Personal Mobility and visual communications system). The PM is part of an emerging class of vehicle that takes single-person transport - dominated by the motorcycle throughout the 20th century - in a radically new direction. The other notable vehicle in this category is the Hermes concept featured in Gizmo 4, which shares the PM's ability to shift posture during transit to best suit the function.
The PM features three driving modes - the "high-speed" mode sees the posture drop lower for a more aerodynamic profile, in "city" mode the posture of the vehicle is raised a better view at low speed and the "entry/exit mode" enables the left and right rear wheels to turn in opposite directions, creating an awesome turning circle for parking just about anywhere.
Drive-by-wire control also assists in tight and difficult manoeuvres in all modes.
Being a one-seat design, the focus on interactive communications is geared towards maintaining contact with the outside world and other PMs. Each PM has a profile and can identify other PMs through these visual labels and match profiles, alert you to information you might find relevant or detect "packets" of data left behind by others.
The information hub takes the form of a floating holographic display system or "space input display" (below) that also facilitates an instant messaging system similar to online chat. The PM changes colour when engaged in bi-directional communication (called resonance mode) - a feature that suggests the PM and similar vehicles could become the transportation device of choice for teenagers.
An extension of the enhanced communication functionality is the Automatic partner tracking drive. This enables PMs to follow each other automatically in "Platoon formation", blurring the notion of single-person transport by allowing groups of PMs can travel as one.