Personal mobility concepts are nothing new, but their development amongst mainstream carmakers is certainly on the rise. Arguably leading the pack is Toyota — in the last few years the company has revealed a succession of models all designed for a single passenger.
The Toyota FV2 (Fun Vehicle 2) concept follows on that same path, but does so using advanced future vehicle technologies to form stronger physical and emotional connections with the driver. Measuring 3000m in length and 1600mm wide, with a 2360mm-long wheelbase, the FV2 stands 1780mm high when in driving mode but retracts down to just 990mm tall when not in use.
The physical connection stems from the FV2 concept’s steering mechanism: there isn’t a conventional steering wheel. Instead, the driver shifting his or her body intuitively to move the vehicle forwards or back operates the personal mobility vehicle, left or right — much like a Segway.
The FV2 also uses intelligent transport system technology to connect with other vehicles nearby and highway infrastructure to capture safety information, such as warning riders of vehicles in blind spots or at junctions.
Toyota believes the relationships between drivers and their vehicles will continue to develop aspects of trust and understanding. This creates an emotional connection similar to those a rider will have with a horse.
The company has taken technology from the Toyota Heart Project — a communication research project that employs humanoid robots with artificial intelligence to engage in emotional communication, including expressions and gestures — to enable the driver and FV2 to develop a relationship. The vehicle uses voice and image recognition to determine the driver’s mood; it can use accumulated driving history to suggest destinations; and can present driving skills information to assist the driver.
Further augmenting the emotional machine/user connection, the body color and exterior display can be infinitely personalized to suit an individual user’s preference, while an augmented reality display can also be presented on the windscreen.
If all of this sounds a bit too left field to visualize, Toyota has developed a dedicated smartphone app to let users enjoy something of the FV2 driving experience. Visit the Apple AppStore or Google Play platform to download the app for free.