Toyota announced today a trio of new "Toyota Partner Robots" designed as a new method of personal transport assistance (Click here to see a gallery of the three). They're each called the "Winglet" and the smallest of the three consists of a body a little bigger than an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper that houses an electric motor, two wheels and internal sensors that constantly monitor the user's position and make adjustments in power to ensure stability. Meanwhile, a unique parallel link mechanism allows the rider to go forward, backward and turn simply by shifting body weight. Sound familiar to you? It should.
The trio are designed to "contribute to society by helping people enjoy a safe and fully mobile life." Basically, it's designed to help people like the elderly and morbidly obese by expanding the user's range of mobility in a Segway-like manner. The "L", "M" and "S", each having different handling features that allow consumers to select a model appropriate to their needs—from "practical" to "hands-free sporty."
Jalopnik Snap Judgment: We've seen this before, except last time it was called the Segway. And we all know how we think about that. But, Toyota loves the people-transporting toys like the i-real personal mobility device we saw at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. Will people buy them? In Japan, perhaps.