Toyota develops standup mover

by Hiroko Nakata

Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled a compact motorized transporter Friday that people ride standing up.

Toyota said it will start testing the Winglet, which it calls “a partner robot,” later this year at Central Japan International Airport near Nagoya and Laguna Gamagori, a seaside resort in Aichi Prefecture.

Toyota will also test the device next year at the Tressa Yokohama shopping complex.

“It is so compact that everyone can bring it anywhere and it is easy to use,” said Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada, who rode a Winglet onto the stage at a news conference in Tokyo.

Uchiyamada said it is more compact and maneuverable than the Segway device built in the U.S.

He said the company has not yet set prices or a specific schedule for commercializing the transporter. It will come in three models — the S, weighing 9.9 kg, and the M and the L, both weighing 12.3 kg.

The Winglet travels forward, backward, to the left and the right as the rider shifts weight. Each model can motor along at up to 6 kph.

Toyota said developing robots for personal use is one of its business pillars. It has already released chair-shaped transporters that help people move around and humanoid robots that can play the trumpet and the violin.