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Toyota 'Insect': A smart concept car

Posted: 03 Oct 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electric vehicle  motion sensors  Kinect  voice recognition technology  smartphone app 

Toyota unveiled its "Smart Insect" concept electric vehicle at CEATEC Japan 2012.

Described as "the next-generation communications-linked concept model," Smart Insect is a single-seater electric vehicle equipped with technologies such as motion sensors, voice recognition and behaviour prediction.

The Insect features gull-wing doors and is trapped in a body similar to Toyota's single-seater EV named COMS. With a top speed of 60km per hour, COMS can travel 50km on a five-hour charge.

Smart Insect also marks Toyota's initial foray into the consumer electronics market. The auto maker is pitching the EV as a platform – or "a playground" – to showcase as many bells and whistles as its engineers could come up with.

The concept car features an elaborate motion detection system (Microsoft's Kinect) to identify its owner along with other motion sensors used to predict driving behaviour. A docking port in the dashboard for smart phones allows handsets to be synchronised with online services while recharging wirelessly. The Insect also has a large LCD screen above the steering wheel to display smartphone information.

Smart Insect

"Smart Insect"—A single-seater car from Toyota

The EV also displays a welcome message on front and rear screens when the owner approaches the car. A voice recognition technology allows the user to open the car door and to perform other functions.

It is designed to connect with entertainment and navigation services via Toyota's Smart Center. An integrated home energy management system allows drivers to adjust air conditioning and lock the front door via a smartphone app.

Smart Insect represents Toyota strategy of "connecting people, cars and homes." Ultimately, the vehicle is akin to a consumer electronics gadget offering telematics on steroids.

- Junko Yoshida
  EE Times

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