Photo: CEATEC Japan
At electronics show CEATEC Japan 2012, Toyota has unveiled a curious concept vehicle it calls the “INSECT,” or Information Network Social Electricity City Transporter.The name fits: The tiny vehicle has doors that open upward to resemble a flying bug.
Toyota says: “The name aims to convey an image of a small insect that flies around on large wings, in the same way as the vehicle freely navigates through and uses an information network.”
The all-electric INSECT has all the features one expects from a futuristic concept: face recognition, behaviour prediction, motion sensors, a big central screen that connects to the driver’s smartphone, and more.
Here’s the problem: It only seats one person. This is Toyota’s vision for how people will zip around cities of the future. Those cities will be bigger and more dense than they are today, so urban vehicles will need to move people more efficiently.
There is already a small, one-seat vehicle made for dense urban travel: the scooter. With two extra wheels and more bulk, the INSECT is a less efficient mode of solo travel than what we have now.
It’s unlikely this little car will be built, and that’s a good thing. Concepts are visions of the future, whether or not they are feasible. A world where everyone has his or her own car that fits only her or she is feasible, but it’s not desirable.
Toyota would do better to put all that technology and electric power in a two-wheel vehicle, or a car that seats at least two.
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