Toyota engineers stole the show at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2007 World Congress, as they buzzed around Cobo Hall’s aisles in the automaker’s one-person i-swing concept vehicle. The three-wheeled i-swing, a so-called “personal mobility vehicle,” captured the attention of attendees when its operator leaned it back and drove it on two wheels. Toyota engineers explained that the i-swing incorporates a feedback loop using a gyroscopic sensor, which enables it to maintain its balance, much like the famed Segway transporter.
i-swing differs from the Segway, however, in that it allows drivers to sit while they operate it. Toyota designers endowed it with a “wearable” feeling and a low-resistance urethane body covered in cloth. Drivers sit high in the vehicle, enabling them to take up less space on a crowded sidewalk and be at eye-level with surrounding passerby.
“It’s like a person,” said Motoki Yoshino, Toyota’s assembly and maintenance engineer for the i-swing. “It’s the same height as a person, so you can pull up along side other people and easily talk to them.”
The tiny vehicle demonstrated at the auto show also incorporated large LED displays on the front and back, which Toyota said can be used to express the mood of the driver. The LEDs can also display advertisements.
The vehicle at the show was propelled by a DC motor of unspecified power and a lithium-ion battery.
Yoshino said Toyota designed it for use in crowded locales: busy city streets; malls. The company has no plans as yet to put the i-swing into production.