Last week Toyota unveiled the latest iteration of its single-person vehicle at the Tokyo Auto Show. The vehicle is called the i-REAL, and it’s somewhat like a Segway, but with a third wheel for added stability at higher speeds. This latest version has now hit production, with the first units said to be available later this month.
The i-REAL is capable of roughly 20 m.p.h. at its highest speed, and at lower speeds shifts to a two-wheel vertical stance to blend with foot traffic.
A great video of an initial i-Swing concept vehicle can be found here on CNet videos. This earlier version was equipped with LCD panels and more of an encasing and futuristic driver pod.
The Segway was met with great fanfare as the future of transportation that would alter how we travel short distances. That prediction certainly hasn’t come true. I’ve seen the Segway being used on tradeshow floors, at airports and for security patrolling. I have yet to see a personal version on the streets of any major city.
I like the concept of an electric single-person vehicle, but have a hard time seeing how or why it should replace our own two legs. It doesn’t protect from the weather or interface well with public transport. Perhaps it will serve best as a device for the disabled, although I don’t believe that’s the target market.