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The first public trials of Toyota’s Winglet mobility assistance robot are starting in Japan.
Winglet will be tested on the city’s pavements to assess its safety and practicality for moving among pedestrians. Toyota said the trial will last until March 2016, with the emphasis in the first year being safety and from 2014 on functionality, convenience and prospective public demand.
The three-year program has been launched in Tsukuba, a science and environment city in Japan.
During the assessment program, the Winglet will be used by 80 local authority workers and employees of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in a part of the city that has been hosting mobility robot test programs since 2011.
Toyota first presented the Winglet in 2008. It is a compact, lightweight two-wheeled machine that is ridden in a standing position and maneuvered using a long, vertical T-bar handle.
The handle is adjustable, so people of all heights can use the machine.
When not in use, the Winglet can simply be folded up and carried.
Toyota’s Winglet is powered by a lithium-ion battery and has a range of about six miles (10km) on a full charge. Top speed is around 3.5mph (6km/h), and battery charging takes an hour.
Performance is emissions-free, so the Winglet is also suitable for use in some indoor environments, for example in airports or office complexes.