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Toyota reinvents the Segway: Meet the Winglet

August 2, 2008 |  1:29 pm

Admittedly, the world is crying out for alternative forms of transport, but the Segway’s electric bandwagon seems like a strange thing to jump on. Nevertheless, Toyota’s ‘Winglet,’ described by the company as a ‘personal transport assistance robot,’ looks awfully familiar.

Although still under development, the Winglet comes in three forms: small, Latwings_3 medium and large, so users can choose an appropriate version ranging from ‘practical’ (this is Toyota’s wording, remember) to ‘hands-free sporty.’ Latwingm_2 Each model has two wheels and an electric motor. The base covers roughly the area of a piece of A3 paper. Also in there somewhere are a bunch of sensors, allowing the user to move and steer by shifting his or her body weight. This is all in the name of ‘contributing to the health and comfort of future society.’

Latwingl_2 The heaviest and fastest Winglet weighs around 27 pounds, has a top speed of 3.7 mph, a range of 6.2 miles and takes an hour to recharge completely. Considering a Segway (despite weighing over 100 pounds) has a range of up to 25 miles and a top speed of 12.5 mph, it’s unlikely it’ll need retrofitting with rear-view mirrors any time soon. Then again, it does need something like 10 hours for a full recharge. Perhaps Toyota should change the name to ‘Aesop.’

-- Colin Ryan

Photos: Toyota