If you can't wait to own a robotic car, Japanese researchers have developed a multipurpose scooter with smarts.
The “Innovative Life for You - Active” or ILY-A (Eye-Ree-eh) is a foldable, three-wheel vehicle prototype that can be driven while seated or standing.
It can be adjusted to resemble a scooter or a cart for carrying goods. As seen at this demonstration in Tokyo, it takes a minute or two to manually reconfigure it.
The vehicle has laser scanners that allow it to automatically stop when it detects people or objects in its path.
Powered by a rechargeable battery that’s designed to last a whole day, the vehicle has a top speed of about 10 kilometers per hour. LEDs at the front glow red or blue depending on whether it senses obstacles.
It’s based on robotics technology developed by the Chiba Institute of Technology’s Future Robotics Technology Center. The Institute has developed droids including ones that have been used at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant and humanoids that have won the RoboCup soccer tournament.
A number of small vehicles and intelligent carts resembling Eye-Ree-eh have been developed to help Japan’s rapidly aging population get around better, but the country has yet to roll out comprehensive regulations for them.
The scooter is slated to be shown off in Italy next month as part of Milan Design Week. The developers have not announced a time frame for commercialization yet.
With reporting by Tim Hornyak in Tokyo, Nick Barber, IDG News Service.