Concept of the Day: Toyota Smart INSECT

October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Insect = Information Network Social Electric City Transporter in this context, but this single-seater EV is a little bug-like in its appearance. Developed from Toyota’s earlier COMS concept, this one has voice-recognition, facial-recognition and motor sensor technologies to identify the driver and predict their behaviour, opening doors, setting destinations and functions such as the audio system and lights. It’s supported by the cloud-based Toyota Smart Centre and incorporates smartphone navigation and communication with the driver’s home for remote operation of devices such as heaters, air conditioners and door locks. An obvious application is its use by disabled drivers or the elderly. It’s on display this week at CEATEC Japan 2012, a tech show in Chiba City.

  • Toyota’s trialling the COMS in a programme called Ha:Mo (“Harmonious Mobility”) in its Toyota City complex. Ha:Mo is a multi-modal service offering short-distance EVs, provision of park-and-ride for users’ own vehicles and guidance on appropriate public transport options. The EVs will be booked and accessed via smartphones and ID cards from four locations, and their charging (as well as that of users’ own EVs or plug-in hybrids) will be monitored; e-bikes could be added later. More here at Green Car Congress.
  • Nissan’s showing a self-parking LEAF at CEATEC 2012; the NSC-2015 can be guided remotely by smartphone to find a suitable parking space and put itself in there, thanks to 360-degree cameras – and can then be called back to fetch the driver. More here.
  • San Francisco-based peer-to-peer car-sharing scheme Wheelz is extending to four more university campuses. Students rent their cars to fellow scheme members via smartphone apps or a website, using RFID cards for access to the vehicle. “Car ownership is no longer a priority for millennials; this generation cares about convenience and access,” says Wheelz CEO, Jeff Miller. “We’ve built and refined our service on college campuses because today’s students are at the forefront of the shared economy.” Release here. Zipcar has invested in the scheme, whose rivals include Getaround and RelayRides.
  • Volvo has signed an MOI with the Car 2 Car consortium over V2V and V2I communications; a demo of telematics services using roadside units will take place in Vienna later this month. Car 2 Car is funded by companies including the European car-makers; the tech’s planned for debut in 2016.
  • IBM is teaming with ESB Networks in Ireland to create a fully-integrated smart card and cloud-based EV recharging and billing scheme, linked to the national grid and informing its electricity distribution. More here.
  • Detailed summary of California’s recently-passed autonomous car bill here.
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