Fri, Dec 02, 2011 - Page 10 News List

New foldable robot scooter wows at Tokyo Motor Show

AFP, TOKYO

A foldable robot scooter controlled by a smartphone wowed visitors to the Tokyo Motor Show yesterday as its makers unveiled what they hope will be the future of urban driving.

The Kobot is a scooter-like three-wheeler vehicle with just one seat that can be packed away after use in a space of around 1m2.

With a target speed of 30kph, makers Kowa Tmsuk hope the electrically-powered vehicle will be perfect for navigating crowded city streets, without adding to air pollution.

“This is a robot you can ride,” said Yoichi Takamoto, president of Tmsuk the company that is one half of the joint venture and has previously developed robots designed for medical care and disaster rescue operations.

The driver uses a smartphone to remotely tell the Kobot to fold its rear wheel and seat onto the main body of the vehicle when not in use, something designers say is ideal for cities like Tokyo where parking space is at a premium.

Kowa Tmsuk president Yoshito Serita said his company was aiming to have the vehicles ready for the market by next autumn.

“They are unique vehicles designed to be super-small, super-zippy and full of playful spirit,” he said.

Other non-auto companies also displayed their wares at the motor show, which opened on Wednesday.

Japanese synthetic fiber maker Toray Industries, which supplies carbon fiber materials for Boeing’s fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner aircraft, was showing off its concept electric vehicle made of the same materials as the plane.

The car, named “Teewave,” has a body made entirely of the light-weight carbon fiber, which its designers say will make it cheaper to run and stronger.

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