Segway users, look behind your shoulder. Another "personal transport assistant" is waiting in the wings.
The Toyota Winglet will be used in trials at a Japanese airport and shopping center in 2009, with a planned mass deployment in early 2010. It's much slower than the Segway with a top speed of only 3.7 mph, but comes in three models: the S (which is only 18 inches tall and weighs 22 pounds), the M (27 inches tall and 27 pounds), and the L (about 4 feet tall and the same weight as the M). Both the S and M use leg braces to help you steer, while the L provides a handle bar. Like the Segway, the Winglet senses weight shifts for steering and speed and can slow down or stop if you teeter too much.
In a video demo, a Toyota representative effortless drove around a stage with the S model. Trials in Japan will determine how well the device maneuvers in crowded areas, and how pedestrians not riding on a Winglet will react. The press release for the Winglet mentions how the Toyota robotics division intends to help contribute the "health and comfort" of future society. My only comment: in current society, with pervasive electronic entertainment, gas-guzzling cars, and a coach-potato lifestyle, it seems as though introducing another vehicle that does not require physical excursion is counter-productive.
But who knows? The Winglet looks slick and portable, a device that is light enough to carry in the car and use on a whim. It could also provide more mobility for those who walk to work every day. In the US, it's still unclear whether devices such as the Segway and Winglet will catch on; but manufacturers seem to have few qualms pushing them.
I will never understand why companies are so insistent on introducing news modes of transportation that leave you more limited with it than without it. People can (read: should be able to) walk further than these machines can on a single change while being able to avoid the limitations that a paraplegic would experience such as not being able to go up stairs. Do people really hate walking that much? Resources should be spent on devices that actually benefit people, not further enable idle lifestyles.
I think this product is perfectly fine because the free market will determine if it was a good idea to invest that much money into a product that seems so pointless and no... I will not be buying one of these.
When I'm old and my knees give out to the point that I can't walk long distances these will be awesome!
First people say, "Recession!" Then they come out with these.
Walking is probably the only form of exercise most of the world gets and its the most integral to keeping good health. This will only increase health problems amongst the lazy! hah if you all have seen WALLE that is the future we are slowly creating. Humans for millions of years walked everywhere, its in our genetic code that we are suppose to walk! otherwise we would have wings, fins, or some other evolutionary adaptation.
I could see this being a commercial application for use by the post office and the like; however I doubt it will take off and sweep through main stream. If it's going to compare or challenge itself to the segway, then I want to know how much cheaper it will be, if at all...to get me interested. The most successful use the segway got was commercial use, I rode one at Disneyland in future land! The only other time I've seen them is a postman, a policeman, or a tour trail of 5 in San Francisco (covered in ads.)
Looks like another corporate giant farting around with anything BUT a useful EV1 type electric car. How much is Exxon/Chevron paying these companies to NOT produce a small efficient electric car that would work well for most of us? This thing is basically a joke and hoax to keep us from having a real vehicle.
This looks like a really interesting product.
Well we don't have fire because evolution put a lighter into our thumbs. The reason we differ so much from animals is because we invent all sorts of stuff, (starting with languages).
Although i still agree that we are getting lazier and lazier by the day.
But business is business and i think it'll get some profit.
The portability of this product could be of great use! If you're thinking that this product could be used solely for the purpose of the "lazy", then yes, it probably isn't much of a product to be proud of. However the product is very portable, which could serve many amputees. Instead of having a mechanical lift that carries your huge "Hover-round" on the back of your vehicle, you could use this product. Just strap it on like you do if you were carrying a pair of inline-skates!
I am currently undergoing chemo and radiation for Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade 4 (Brain Cancer). Unfortunately, I already feel like a schlep for needing assistance in walking, etc especially when walking for a mere distance such as through the mall, down the street to the next treatment, etc.
For someone like me, an option like this gives me not only exactly that AN OPTION to be self reliant, but it also stops making me feel so low for needing help/assistace with something as simple or mundane as getting to my appointment. Self reliance is a true esteem builder and at this time, anything that keeps me feeling semi-normal, or up, is alright in my book.
As mentioned by others, the market will decide who this works for but in the meantime, I like having a smaller option than the exensive Segway and look forward to trying this out if/when it becomes a reality. Hopefully they don't drag their feet too long though!
I'm sure the Segway has a market, but considering I don't know where to buy one in my major large city, I don't know how large their market can be.