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Toyot'a I-UNIT Personal Mobility Concept shown in New York

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March 25, 2005

In high speed mode the i-unit 'squats', lengthening its wheelbase for stability and reduci...

In high speed mode the i-unit 'squats', lengthening its wheelbase for stability and reducing its frontal area for increased aerodynamic efficiency

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March 26, 2005 Toyota's i-unit concept was debuited outside Japan for the first time at the 2005 New York International Auto Show yesterday indicating the "personal mobility" is gathering momentum as a production possibility. One of the most radical automotive concepts ever publicly shown, the single passenger i-unit is a radical new form of "personal mobility" that was first shown as the PM Concept at the 2003 Tokyo Show but continues to evolve and with this concerted push towards public awareness of the concept, Toyota is clearly seeking to commercialise this exciting cross between a miniature electric car and a robot in the near future. Toyota is also showing an even more radical personal mobility "i-foot" unit at the EXPO 2005 in Aichi which is similar to the i-unit but features bipedal motive power (i.e. robotic legs).

The i-unit creates a seamless transformation between the vehicle and human movement, minimizing occupied space and energy consumption with its lightweight and ultra compact size. Its components are made with decomposable and recyclable materials to reduce impact on the environment.

The concept operates in an upright and horizontal mode. Its small size enables the driver to move among people in an upright position in low speed mode. The i-unit reclines in high-speed mode and its low center of gravity ensures stable handling.

Drive-by-wire technology and intuitive handling allow the driver to maneuver quick turns and drive at high speeds. In addition, a driver support information system uses sound, light and vibration to facilitate interactive communication. The i-unit features Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technology that permits safe and efficient autopilot driving in specially equipped lanes.

Toyota says the i-unit seeks to balance freedom of movement, harmony with society, and harmony with the Earth's natural environment. Its design was inspired by a leaf and expresses the power of the unknown, the logic of living things and the simple beauty of waste-free functionality.

Customization is also integral to the concept. A personalized recognition system can provide information and music to the driver, while the body color can be personalized according to the driver's preferences and emotions.

The concept vehicle will also be featured at the Toyota Group Pavilion at EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan that opens tomorrow and is scheduled to run to September 25 of this year.

Specifications

Length in Low-Speed Mode - 1100 mm Length in High-Speed Mode - 1800 mm

Height in Low-Speed Mode - 1800 mm

Height in High-Speed Mode - 1250 mm

Width - 1040 mm

Wheel Base in Low-Speed Mode - 540 mm Wheel Base in High-Speed Mode -1300 mm

Weight - 180 kg

Minimum Turning Radius (Outer Side when turning in place) 0.9 m

Drive System - In-Wheel Motors (Rear)

Battery Type - Lithium Ion

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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