Test Drive Pilots | 2016.12.20

Can’t Take My Eyes Off the City Lights

Illumination paradise of Tokyo! Illumination paradise of Tokyo! The advances made in illumination in recent years are nothing less than stunning. Powered by the proliferation of LED light bulbs, eco-friendly for their low electricity consumption and generation of no heat, the scope for engineering decorations, exhibits and other attractions has dramatically expanded. Every year, this inspires a steady stream of new illumination concepts and platforms designed to truly mesmerize our senses. In Tokyo as well, every year brings captivating updates of this illumination story, with a growing number of spots arranged for our viewing pleasure.Venturing out into the city, increasingly visionary lightshows greet us most everywhere we go – as if a magical spell has been cast over the entire bustling metropolis. Basking in the crisp clear air of winter, simply gazing at the glistening lights is more than sufficient to ignite a happy glow in the heart as well. The i-ROAD is an ultra-compact three-wheeled electric vehicle developed to bring greater freedom to urban mobility. The unit maneuvers tightly around corners, offers an impressively wide field of vision and peaceful, quiet ride, making it an ideal means of getting around the illuminated quarters. Roppongi – lit up in otherworldly beauty Roppongi – lit up in otherworldly beauty Within Tokyo, the upscale Roppongi district has risen to reign as a top spot for illuminated majesty. A particular standout is the decorative lighting on the Japanese zelkova trees along Keyakizaka Street. Here, cold and warm colors illuminate alternatively in surreal images, with stately Tokyo Tower in the background. This sloping route renders the illumination even easier to see, while the stylish affinity with the surrounding facilities further enhances this extraordinary urban lighting experience. Omotesando – boulevard of brilliant lighting Omotesando – boulevard of brilliant lighting Omotesando is one of Tokyo's most celebrated thoroughfares. The rows of zelkova trees here extend on for around 500 meters, and this time of year are vividly adorned in champagne gold illumination. Omotesando is a true pioneer district in the saga of Tokyo illumination, and ranks as truly exceptional for the lovely harmony between the local streetscape and the fantastic lighting techniques.Bathed in these sparkling lights, the faces of passersby instinctively break into equally radiant smiles. Tokyo continues to evolve in fashionable grandeur Tokyo continues to evolve in fashionable grandeur Besides the examples above, Tokyo also overflows with other locations to take in dazzling scenes of illumination. The steady evolution of this tradition continues, with updates raising the caliber of this year's experience over last year's, while drumming up expectations for even further fascination next year. The city literally brims in energy, powering the ongoing transformation to greater heights and paving the way to the increasing illuminated charisma that Tokyo has to offer. Taking to the streets of Tokyo as its staging area, The OPEN ROAD PROJECT was conceived to probe the vast potential of the i-ROAD as an innovative new-era transport medium.Closely examining the contours of the city, sensing the stimulation of the city, while all the time pursuing new benchmarks and possibilities for greater urban mobility. Just as the illumination and the big city continue to evolve, the OPEN ROAD PROJECT also steadily moves forward in the quest for new motoring breakthroughs. The sight of the i-ROAD, bathed in brilliant colors as it zips along, is a no-nonsense statement of how this illuminating scenario is being played out. Another year is winding down, with 2016 coming to a close.On behalf of everyone onboard the OPEN ROAD PROJECT, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for another year of precious support and interest.On this occasion, we also wish you a very Merry Christmas, and the greatest of happiness and prosperity in the coming year. TEXT BY Tomoyuki Kato (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 20 December 2016

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Test Drive Pilots | 2016.12.9

Phase 10 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots Take to the Roadways!

With a bit of unseasonable snow remaining on the ground, the training for these i-ROAD Pilots began by showing them basic pointers for tooling around Tokyo in their trusty i-ROAD units. First off, they were treated to rundowns of new services set for introduction from this latest phase. That included so-called "partitioned use of four-wheeler parking lots," "access to motorcycle bays" and other new parking opportunities realized through collaboration with parking facility owners, the "SMILE LOCK" service for shared use of electrical sockets and more. This information clearly elevated the sense of excitement and anticipation among the Test Drive Pilots as they waited to be cleared to take to the wilds of Tokyo. As the briefing came to a close, the Pilots climbed into their assigned i-ROADs at last. Nestling in behind the wheel, a steady stream of exclamations of surprise and smiles soon erupted in reaction to the unique and special driving sensations of the i-ROADs being experienced for the first time. Meanwhile, besides family units selected to operate the "i-ROAD for Two" models, participants in the Phase 10 group also included several corporations. This added even greater diversity to the Pilot lineup, with everyone sharing equally in eagerness to simply get out and drive. Thankfully they didn't have to wait much longer, with the curtain soon raised on the Phase 10 Test Drive program. As they drove off the laboratory course track, all Pilot minds turned to what would lie ahead over the next month, as they shared their driving and other everyday routines with the i-ROAD. ISSUED : 09 December 2016

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Test Drive Pilots | 2016.12.6

Using the i-ROAD to Explore Some of Tokyo’s Nature-Packed Settings!

Seeing how Tokyo also offers impressive natural settings! Seeing how Tokyo also offers impressive natural settings! Within the 23 wards that form the focal part of Greater Tokyo, Todoroki Gorge qualifies as the only true "ravine" as such. Nestled in a rich natural environment, the canyon-like site has been designated as an "official site of scenic beauty" in Tokyo Metropolis. Season-wise, this test ride took place at the height of the autumnal color change time of year. Warmly welcoming the i-ROAD, for example, were rows of Japanese maples reaching out with arms of bright scarlet leaves. Getting out of the ultra-light compact, Mr. Matsuo and his daughter went on a one-kilometer walk along the Yazawa-gawa River, crisp fallen leaves crunching under their feet. With the chirping of songbirds in the air, the stroll could not have been more pleasant. Mr. Matsuo's daughter kept busy using her binoculars to focus in on birds in the trees, listen intently to their songs, pick up pretty leaves and acorns, and otherwise savor the hike. Standing in front of a bamboo grove, she murmured about how the Shining Princess (from the ancient Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) might be hiding somewhere among the trees. Catching up with Mr. Matsuo, whose hands were full of acorns that his daughter had picked up along the way, we asked him about his impressions so far. "With the i-ROAD being so compact, there's a truly intriguing and intimate sense of fit. Since I'm in the driver's seat and my daughter's in the back, we can't directly see each other's faces. Yet despite that, there's a sense of being extremely close together. I mean, we've chatted much like always, with her telling me that she was recently picked to be on the relay team, how her teacher praised a picture that she drew and other fresh reports. As a parent, it's great to directly hear and feel how my daughter is enjoying herself, even she's speaking from the rear seat." Continuing the drive, the next stop was at Manganji Todoroki Temple, where Mr. Matsuo parked the i-ROAD in a local lot. This particular temple, famed for having mystical powers in matchmaking and other areas of romantic fate, was bustling with visitors that day. Gazing down at Todoroki Gorge from the main pavilion, the dazzling beauty of the autumn leaves once again glistened in full glory. Even Mr. Matsuo's daughter felt moved to pause from her leaf-gathering fun and take in the scenery. As they continued the visit, she also proved to be surprisingly familiar with the method of offering prayers, the ritual hand washing and other temple etiquette. If venturing a guess, this would appear to be evidence of frequent visits by the Matsuo family to temples and other places of worship. After she prayed, we asked the young lady what she had wished for. She replied with a smile: "That's a secret. If I tell, it won't come true, right?" i-ROAD rides prone to inspire revealing new topics? i-ROAD rides prone to inspire revealing new topics? From the Todoroki temple, Mr. Matsuo motored to the Futako Tamagawa area, where they stopped for a lunch break. After all that walking, both father and daughter were famished! As they grabbed a welcome bite, they also treated the i-ROAD to "lunch" (referring to a fresh power charge at a nearby parking lot). Tuning into their conversation over the meal, Mr. Matsuo's daughter appeared to be asking for a Santa Claus set of Lego building blocks for Christmas. She also mentioned a "boyfriend" from time to time, conjuring up pangs of anxiety for us as well. Daddy Matsuo also appeared slightly perplexed by that particular turn in the chat, and offered the following candid comment: "One of the benefits of taking drives with my daughter is the opportunity to hear her mention topics unlikely to come in normal conversations." Offering its own special access to natural beauty, the i-ROAD begs to be taken out again and again! Offering its own special access to natural beauty, the i-ROAD begs to be taken out again and again! Having eased their hunger pangs, Mr. Matsuo and his daughter picked up their recharged i-ROAD and set out for Kosaka Greenbelt Park in the 4-chome district of Seta. This park, forming one section of the inclined wooded area on the Kokubunji cliff line, contains the "Old Kosaka Family Home" (the registered tangible cultural property of the ward) and a traditional garden highlighted by the flow of natural spring water. Here, the time passes in leisurely tranquility, that day steeped in an atmosphere where the flow of sunlight seemed audible in its own distinctive tenor. Visiting on their own, grownups may be prone to get swept up in the ambiance, falling into a meditative hush. On this occasion, such thoughts were quickly extinguished by the sheer energy that children so commonly exhibit. That is, Mr. Matsuo's daughter wasted no time in tramping around noisily as she explored the grounds, soon discovering a big spider's web that she reported to her dad. Finally, before they climbed back into the i-ROAD to head back, we took a moment to ask this father-daughter combination about their impressions of the day's activities.Reported Mr. Matsuo: "It was truly enjoyable. Although I normally ride around locally by bicycle, this car greatly expands my activity sphere. With the i-ROAD, there are any number of nice spots I'd like to visit – Komazawa Park, Kinuta Park and many others. It was also a joy to engage in a different level of communication with my daughter than usual. Today alone, there were several times when I realized just how much she has grown up. This makes me more determined than ever to take such outings with her, as often as we can, until the day arrives that she no longer wants to hang out with her dad any more!" We next asked his daughter, with her reply simple and to the point: "That was really fun!" Her content expression, and the acorns and dried fallen leaves clutched in her hands, were clear messages of the sense of satisfaction with the day's events. Perhaps tuckered out by the walking, she had a sleepy look on her face as she got back into the rear of the i-ROAD. Looking as if she might doze off in no time at all, the day's jaunt came to an end. For such a modern city, Tokyo is surprising fertile in natural settings. However, most of those locations are tough to get to by train, and the extensive walking to follow can be discouraging. Going to all the trouble of driving there in oversized cars is also a bit much, which is too bad because most such spots remain largely unchanged from the distant past. In that sense, the i-ROAD appears to be necessary for taking off on such "mini-adventures" around the Japanese Capital. And, as seen in the case of Mr. Matsuo and his daughter, expanding the activity range can also naturally lead to fond and lasting memories for both parents and their children. TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 06 December 2016

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PROTOTYPING REPORT | 2016.10.25

Emergence of a “Charging Revolution” Powered by the SMILE LOCK Communication-Friendly Outlet

  The quest for "outlet sharing" through SMILE LOCK The quest for "outlet sharing" through SMILE LOCK For some time now, one of the key components in the OPEN ROAD PROJECT has been prototyping of the "Dokodemo Station" (literally, "Anywhere Station") charging concept. In actual practice, however, this prototype scheme does not involve construction of new charging facilities. Rather, the guiding idea is to effectively enrich the i-ROAD charging environment via active sharing of power outlets around town that remain largely, if not totally, unused. Under the conventional format, however, outlets installed throughout our cities and towns are the property of individual and corporate owners. It goes without saying, furthermore, that such owners are prone to charge for the costs involved in gaining access to those outlets. Taking this situation under consideration, SMILE LOCK was devised with the purpose of bringing greater freedom to this flow of electricity and money. More specifically, with SMILE LOCK outlets themselves equipped with communications functions, this enables the constant recording of specific users, when the outlet was accessed and how much power was charged. The result is a simplified system for customers to pay for only for the amounts of power they actually consume, thereby approaching the realm of genuine outlet sharing. With the expanding use of personal computers, smartphones, tablets and other wireless communication devices in our daily lives, the environment surrounding "charging" has experienced dramatic changes in recent years. One example of this trend may be found in the growing number of cafes and other shops and establishments that are choosing to open their power outlets to general use. The question of how to build and further improve the charging environment is no longer an issue limited to the i-ROAD. SMILE LOCK, in essence, can be said to herald the move to a new stage of evolution not only for electric vehicles, for the domain of "charging" in its entirety. SMILE LOCK The recognition-format power outlet engineered for mutual sharing of electricity http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/smile-lock   TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto(contributor)PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida 25 October 2016

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Test Drive Pilots | 2016.9.23

Phase 9 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots Take to the Roadways!

This September, in the midst of steady rainfall, the selected Phase 9 Test Drive Pilots gathered for their instructional session at the Toyota Tokyo Design Research Laboratory in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji.     After a briefing to further acquaint them with the project, the Pilots eagerly climbing into their i-Road units. Snuggling in behind the wheel, exclamations of surprise were soon heard in reaction to the unique and special driving sensation being experienced for the very first time. With this, the test course was steadily enveloped in a bright and upbeat atmosphere, with any concern about the persistent rain rapidly cast to the wind.   As a new experiment adopted from Phase 9, the Test Drive Pilots are rising to the challenge of "sharing" – namely, joint use of i-ROAD units by a multiple number of Pilots. Also introduced from this latest group has been a service that envisions sharing of electric charge sockets.With the conclusion of the training session, the Pilots were set to begin their test-driving adventures for real. In each phase of Stage 1 of the OPEN ROAD PROJECT, the Test Drive Pilots provided valuable reports spanning a broad range of discoveries. With the Phase 9 Pilots now taking to the roads, it will be exciting to see what new insights this new batch of drivers comes up with during their time with the i-ROAD. PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 23 September 2016

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Event | 2016.9.9

Startup Entrepreneurs Present i-ROAD Collaboration Concepts

Getting in Touch with Cutting Edge Innovations Getting in Touch with Cutting Edge Innovations Convened this July was the FORBES INNOVATION SUMMIT CONCEPT "TOYOTA OPEN ROAD PROJECT + Next Generation Entrepreneurs," an undertaking organized independently by Forbes JAPAN – the Japanese edition of the global-scale economic journal Forbes. The project addressed the theme of the "i-ROAD," the Toyota next-generation super-compact mobility vehicle, and sought to exchange thoughts with startup company entrepreneurs on the future of urban road traffic and visions of the social fabric. Perhaps driven by the desire to witness the raising of the curtain on state-of-the-art open innovations, the event venue was packed as soon as the doors opened. With that, the room was quickly enveloped in the passion and expectation of participants hoping to catch glimpses of the future of cities. Prior to the presentations, Forbes JAPAN Chief Editor Makoto Takano took a few moments to speak on his magazine's motivation in taking part in this project: "At Forbes JAPAN, we are determined to reach beyond the presence of a mere magazine, in emerging as a platform capable of effectively connecting information and people. With this event, we are taking the first big step toward making this vision come true." The i-ROAD was naturally on display at the Summit site. The vivid color scheme was eye catching indeed! Forbes JAPAN Chief Editor Makoto Takano delivers a vigorous endorsement of the importance of bridge platforms. Diversified Approaches to Payments, Security, Electrical Power and Services Diversified Approaches to Payments, Security, Electrical Power and Services Gathering for this Summit were representatives of ten startup companies. Each firm was given six minutes to deliver a short presentation and discussion to outline their images of the future society to be realized hand in hand with the i-ROAD. The speakers previewed services structured to marshal their own distinctive corporate strengths, with a diversified range of approaches and perspectives unveiled. The core concepts included "payment services," "security," "ad technology," "smart locks," "maps," "personal assistance," "electrical power," "points" and more.The Summit also featured a three-judge screening panel comprised of Chief Editor Takano, Toyota MIRAI Project Dept. Director Masaho Suzuki and Draper Nexus Venture Partners, Managing Director Akira Kurabayashi. These panelists were in charge of selecting three of the ten startups as recipients of special prize honors. Chosen for the Best Social Innovator Prize was the Axelspace Corporation, which proposed a system for searching out narrow parking spaces for use by the i-ROAD based on land surface data sourced from an independent group of satellites. The Best Business Innovator Prize was given to Liquid, Inc. which came up with the concept of using "Liquid Pay," the world's first biometric payment service, to provide a car sharing payment service.The third award was the Best Tech Innovator Prize, the winner of which was the AgIC Inc. for its concept of using printed electronics to produce circuits designed to be bent and glued into place to furnish heaters customized to the i-ROAD. AgIC Company Director Masaaki Sugimoto screens a TV commercial profiling his company's service. Commemorative photo op of the three judges and representatives of the three honored companies. Evaluation Benchmarks of Uniqueness, Potential and Technical Capacity Evaluation Benchmarks of Uniqueness, Potential and Technical Capacity Following the awards ceremony, the three judges took the stage to deliver a general consideration of their choices in a discussion format. Comments from Chief Editor Takano included mention of how difficult it proved to decide which ideas to honor: "With all of the proposals extremely outstanding, it was truly tough to make our selections. In the end, we based the decisions on the feasibility of collaboration with the i-ROAD, while adopting the three evaluation benchmarks of uniqueness, potential and technical capacity." Bringing the event to a close was MIRAI Project Dept. Director Suzuki, who noted: "In arranging this Summit, while we were highly motivated by how stimulating the content promised to be, there were also concerns about whether this would really lead to concrete progress applicable to the i-ROAD. As evidenced in today's presentations, however, we have learned about the various different perspectives and visions being adopted in this quest, and I can honestly say that this has turned out to be a genuinely fulfilling event."The focus now promises to shift to the degree to which the ideas previewed at this gathering will grow and bloom on the marketplace, with hopes running high for redoubled progress and success from here on. Toyota MIRAI Project Dept. Director Masaho Suzuki describes the excitement and expectations for what lies ahead.   TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor) ISSUED : 9 September 2016

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