Personal mobility vehicles are expected to be used for various purposes such as shopping and home-delivery services as well as transport at airports, hospitals, libraries, factories and playgrounds, and rental services in tourist spots.
Personal mobility vehicles are not quite like cars, bicycles or motorbikes. Yet they provide a very convenient means of transportation, allowing users to drive on roads as well as move along sidewalks and get around inside large buildings, all with great safety and ease. Personal mobility vehicles are expected to be widely used in Japan in the near future. In fact, a variety of prototypes have been developed, and some already put to use. These vehicles are powered by electricity, which is environmentally friendly, and their very small size will be a big help in easing traffic congestion and parking space shortages. They will allow anyone, including elderly and physically handicapped people, to move around as they wish.
Safe & Environmentally Friendly
Personal mobility vehicles are designed to transport one person and in a very energy-efficient manner. They are suitable for a wide variety of occasions, including traveling distances too far to walk yet too near for driving, or moving around a huge shopping complex or a sprawling hospital compound.
Electric-powered personal mobility vehicles make no noise and emit no exhaust gas, making them a wholly new means of transportation, different from conventional cars and motorbikes. Personal mobility vehicles take you wherever you want to go, in an environmentally friendly manner, and with design features to protect drivers as well as pedestrians.
"i-REAL" is a concept car with changeable vehicle height. © Toyota Motor Corp.
One of the personal mobility vehicles developed by a major Japanese carmaker is a one-seater which looks more like a mobile suit worn by a driver than like a car. A key feature is the distance between its two front wheels and one rear wheel that can change, altering the height of the vehicle in the process. In a driving mode, for example, the vehicle extends the distance to lower its center of gravity, making it more stable when driving on a road at speeds up to 30 km per hour. On a sidewalk, however, its speed limit is automatically reduced to a maximum 6 kph, or just as fast as walking quickly. On a sidewalk, the vehicle also shortens the wheel distance, thereby raising the driver to a level where their line of sight equals that of walkers. That's a critical safety feature.
The vehicle body, made of soft materials, also has built-in contact sensors which warn the driver with sound and vibration if another person gets too close, a pedestrian safety feature.