Test Drive Pilots | 2017.4.7

How Can the Future of Mobility be Transformed via Collaboration with a Major Corporate Player in City Creation?
~ Mori Building Employees Participate as i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots ~

The issues surrounding urban mobility are hardly limited to automakers. They pose shared themes for companies engaged in "city creation" development endeavors as well, with a large and growing number of firms clearly aware of how shifts in mobility are directly linked to the future of our city landscapes and lifestyles. One of these companies is Mori Building. Over the decades, this corporate entity has consistently conveyed its wisdom and understanding that "smart and proper approaches to urban mobility" are essential elements in considering city lifestyles over the years to come. One case in point is the "Innovative City Forum 2016" – an international conference sponsored by Mori Building as a means of probing the impending prospects for cities. Within the Forum’s agenda, the company offers a program based on the challenging theme of "Why and How Will People Move Around?" This phase of the gathering provides a precious opportunity for spirited discussions and other exchanges of views on how urban mobility will evolve on the strength of the sharing economy, advances in automatic driving and other progress, and the resulting changes in our city surroundings. One of the factors behind this stance by Mori Building can be found in the fact that the company has supplied parking spaces in its aforementioned Roppongi Hills, Toranomon Hills and Ark Hills building complexes from Stage 1 of the OPEN ROAD PROJECT. The access to such space has been steadily continued to date, with employees of Mori Building also coming onboard to participate as test-drive pilots from Stage 2. These personnel of Mori Building, the owner and operator of numerous office buildings and commercial facilities in central Tokyo, will be using i-ROAD units to shuttle between those facilities on business. In that capacity, they will conduct their own studies on the needs and receptivity of shared use of such an ultra-compact vehicle from the perspective of seasoned urban development professionals. This represents a unique new partnership by two companies devoted to the pursuit of potent resolutions for the issues faced by today's cities, aimed at defining a viable and progressive future for urban environments. TEXT BY Yui Sato (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 07 April 2017

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Test Drive Pilots | 2017.3.14

Taking Advantage of Small Space Parking is Happy News for Both Lenders and Users

Charging Spots Offering Fun Access for Strolling around City Streets Too Charging Spots Offering Fun Access for Strolling around City Streets Too Selected to serve one of the SSP space owners in this undertaking was Mr. Sato, who lives about five minutes by foot from Shimokitazawa Station on the Inokashira private railway line. Mr. Sato is renting out the parking space at his own home, located at the peak of a gentle slope, as an i-ROAD-dedicated parking space. Lying just nearby is a shopping district with various cafes, variety stores and other establishments offering amusements for strolling around while charging the vehicle.For this interview, we asked Mr. Sato to share his candid thoughts on the reasons that he decided to apply to become a parking space owner, his feelings when actually seeing i-ROAD units parked out front and other insights on being a space supplier. ―― Please tell us how and why you decided to apply to become an SSP space owner. Sato: Last November I saw a parking space owner-recruiting ad on facebook, becoming aware of the existence of the i-ROAD for the very first time. Noticing how small the vehicle is, I figured it would fit nicely into our parking space and immediately answered the ad. ―― Didn't you have any plans to park a car in that spot? Sato: For several years I had been posted abroad in the United States for work, and drove a car during that assignment. Upon returning to Japan, however, I had no plans to own or drive a vehicle. Thinking it was a waste to leave that space open, I was considering the idea of having vending machines installed there. But when I actually looked into it, I discovered it would probably be necessary to use bolts to attach such vending machine to the ground. I was having my doubts about the impact of the construction that would be involved, with the parking space owner ad catching my attention right around that time. ―― What were your impressions when you actually saw an i-ROAD parked on your own property? Sato: The vehicle definitely stood out for its charming design. With various items stored at the back of the parking space, I was concerned if the depth would be sufficient. So it was a relief to find that the i-ROAD fit right in so nicely. ―― Within the OPEN ROAD PROJECT, the plans call for continuing to increase the ranks of space suppliers like you. Sato: I would imagine that there are a surprisingly large number of people who are in the same situation as myself, in which the space in front of their homes or stores is going to waste. There are also likely to be those who would rather rent out such space than simply allowing it to lie idle. For that matter, I believe there are also persons who, if actually owning their own i-ROADs, would think in terms of lending their spaces to others in the spirit of mutual cooperation. For example, parking your own i-ROAD there and renting out the remaining space to other drivers. "SMILE LOCK" – A Breakthrough for Enhancing the Charging Environment "SMILE LOCK" – A Breakthrough for Enhancing the Charging Environment A critical theme in expanding use of electric vehicles (EV) lies in building up the needed infrastructure. To help move in that direction, the OPEN ROAD PROJECT has developed a device known as the "SMILE LOCK." Using this mechanism, which directly instills power outlets with recognition and communications functions, it becomes possible to record data on when and for what durations specific users charge their vehicles. The underlying idea is to mobilize this scheme, with customers paying only for the amounts of power they actually consume, to expand the share of electricity charged from existing outlets and contribute to the infrastructure truly demanded by EV drivers. ―― What's your take on SMILE LOCK as one format for a new sharing economy? Sato: I find very rational the idea of being able to borrow the existing power outlets at general households, as opposed to installing new specialized charging facilities. If systematic controls can be exercised over data for how long specific drivers use the sockets to realize on-site adjustment, those of us who rent out those outlets are unlikely to feel any burden. ―― We'd also appreciate your views as a user of power outlets. Access to charging when out and about is a shared concern not only of EV drivers, but also for "nomad workers" and others who heavily rely on frequent use of smartphones and other portable devices. The SMILE LOCK holds the promise of liberating all sorts of outlets around town for ready use. How would such increases in the number of locations for charging change your own personal lifestyle? Sato: As things stand now, I always fully charge my PC before heading out. If the debut of the SMILE LOCK were to render it possible to easily pay for electric charges and have more locations in the city for recharging, it would be possible to make it through the day free of anxiety about having my charge run low. TEXT BY Yui Sato (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 14 March 2017 ―― Looking ahead, in which types of environments would use of the SMILE LOCK prove convenient for you? Sato: As one example, when staying at guesthouses or other facilities on trips, in most cases separate charges are made for electrical fees. It seems to me that having access to SMILE LOCK would make such adjustment go much smoother. ―― Yes, this really does suggest a wide range of applications at travel destinations too! Finally, from your outlook as a parking space owner, what message do you have for i-ROAD users? Sato: Please don't hesitate to use such parking spaces. My location is only about a five-minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station on the Inokashira Line. Leaving your i-ROAD there is also handy for dropping by the local cafes, shopping and enjoying other activities. Parking for longer periods of time is also welcome, so I encourage drivers to take advantage of this to explore the many attractions of Shimokitazawa. Clearly, there are many idle spaces in cities, with most owners searching for ways to put them to use. In this interview with one such space owner, we came away with the sensation that "Small Space Parking" offers a means of utilizing idle space that brings happy results to both users and lenders. By shedding greater light on small niches, unused power outlets and other assets lying idle in city environments, they will gradually take on greater value. This points to the potential for bringing significant changes to urban mobility simply by putting "what we have now" to more effective use. SMALL SPACE PARKINGPark the i-ROAD in all kinds of tight spaces in the city. http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/smallspaceparking SMILE LOCK OutletThe recognition-format power outlet engineered for mutual sharing of electricity. http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/smile-lock

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Test Drive Pilots | 2017.3.8

Phase 11 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots Take to the Roadways!

This February, under clear skies suggesting that spring may be just around the corner, selected Phase 11 Test Drive Pilots gathered for their instructional session at the Toyota Tokyo Design Research Laboratory in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji. Participating this day were members of "TSUKURUJYO" – a creator team comprised exclusively of women. With most of them normally getting around by commuter train, some could be heard murmuring worrisomely about whether they would be able to skillfully operate their assigned i-ROAD units. After a briefing to acquaint them with how to drive the vehicles, service apps and other details, the Pilots were ready to climb into an i-ROAD for the first time. As they initially peeked into the vehicles, their faces lit up with delight and curiosity, prompting comments of how the i-ROAD was so "small and cute" and other upbeat remarks. While the drivers appeared a bit tense at first, perhaps due to the distinctive driving sensation, as they eased into their vehicles their expressions quickly softened into a steady stream of relieved smiles. Impressions included: "The operation is so intuitive, it really makes you want to rev up and go!" "Being able to drive to your heart's delight, I'm afraid my aggressive persona may be exposed!" True to such observations, the ladies progressively accelerated to higher speed ranges! Pausing to rest, the Pilots quickly snapped photos of each other. Poses struck by leaning an elbow against the window frame proved particularly stylish. After taking their test rides, some of the ladies swapped opinions indicative of their insights as seasoned creators: "The wheel shape is quite eye-catching," "I'd like to get a model in my favorite 2-tone color scheme" and so forth and so on. For Phase 11, a "sharing" approach has again been adopted in which several Pilots engage in joint use of a single i-ROAD. Such "working women" have numerous occasions of taking part in meetings, attending exhibitions, making the rounds of trendy spots to gather the latest information and otherwise circulating around the city. In that sense, it should be fascinating to see how the i-ROAD transforms their everyday routines and sensations. TEXT BY Yui Sato (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 08 March 2017

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Test Drive Pilots | 2017.1.30

Sizing up the Future of "i-ROAD Sharing" from the Angle of "Office Sharing"

Booking the i-ROAD much like conference rooms or equipment Booking the i-ROAD much like conference rooms or equipment On the day of our interview, showing up for work at the co-lab Daikanyama Office were Mr. Tanaka, Ms. Sato and Ms. Sasao. Mr. Tanaka and Ms. Sato are both co-lab management staffers. Mr. Tanaka, while functioning as the director of co-lab, also works diligently in the capacity of a "Creative Facilitator," engaged in devising new concepts to maximize the potential of co-lab as a collective business outlet. Ms. Sato has assumed the title of "Chief Community Manager," acting as a key advisor for the tenant creators. Ms. Sasao handles public relations for "Think the Earth and SPACEPORT Inc." – a general incorporated association renting office space at the co-lab Daikanyama site. On this occasion, we brought these three gentlemen together to swap impressions and suggestions on the "Share-Office i-ROAD Sharing" project. ―― Mr. Tanaka has collaborated in the supply of "Small Space Parking" and other phases of the OPEN ROAD PROJECT to date. For all of you, what are your takes on this latest "Share-Office i-ROAD Sharing" concept? Tanaka: My initial thought was that the "sharing" component of the combination of office and car sharing has a nice ring to it. Once I heard a profile of the actual project, I wasted no time in signing up. With the office tenants at co-lab obviously open to the concept of sharing as something they practice on an everyday basis at the office level, I figured this would be a great match. Sato: Numerous companies have been motivated by the sharing of office space at co-lab to get involved in more eco-friendly daily practices. They quickly recognized the value of participating in this project, with a large number voicing the desire to become part of it from the start. From that group, about 20 individuals joined in the undertaking. Sasao: At our association, Director Ueda was fascinated by the i-ROAD from early on, always telling us how he wanted to pilot one of those ultra-compact cars around. So he was obviously pleased to get the chance to participate in the project. ―― How was the actual "i-ROAD sharing" arranged within co-lab? Did you encounter any particular snags in working that out? Tanaka: We relied on Google Calendar to coordinate the effort. With that Google function normally used to book conference rooms, equipment and other work supports at co-lab, from the very get-go we encountered no particularly serious issues. Sasao: One consideration is the time required to charge the i-ROAD. When driving around in the unit, it's important to bring it back with sufficient time to recharge the battery before the next booking. Sato: One drawback was the limited time that the car was made available to us, which served to further fuel interest and bookings. Things would most likely have gone smoother if everyone was able to reserve the i-ROAD when they really needed and wanted to drive it. Locations handy to reach by car often demand roundabout access by train Locations handy to reach by car often demand roundabout access by train ―― We notice a veritable fleet of bicycles parked in front of this co-lab location. Does this mean that tenants rely on bikes for much of their everyday mobility? Sasao: Although our office is convenient to both Shibuya and Daikanyama stations, since we're located a bit far from either one on foot many tenants ride bicycles for commuting. Rainy days obviously throw a damper on that option, sparking numerous comments about how nice it was to have the i-ROAD available on such occasions. Tanaka: Living in Tokyo, there are plenty of spots that while being quite close by car demand roundabout trips to reach by train. When needing to make trips between the six co-lab offices in Tokyo (Daikanyama, Sendagaya, Futako-Tamagawa, etc.), the i-ROAD was definitely the most convenient way. ―― In what other ways did staffers put the i-ROAD to use? Sato: I remember one time when Ms. Sasao went out to lunch in the i-ROAD! Sasao: Yes, there was a restaurant that I'd wanted to try out but it was a bit of a stretch to walk there. After some thought, I decided to go there by i-ROAD. Since I'm not a normal everyday driver, it was a bit nerve-wracking at first. But once I got used to the car it was a snap, with the compact body making it really fun to breeze around. Strangers would ask me the name of the car, and in no time at all I started feeling pretty cool about the whole thing. Tanaka: That's really true. When you motor around in the i-ROAD it seems like everyone is looking and smiling at you. You can also drive through residential neighborhoods for the first time, and no one gives you strange or suspicious looks. Maybe that's because it's instantly clear who's driving the car from the outside. The unique sense of closeness, unavailable with most any other car, makes the i-ROAD a real joy to cruise around in. Sato: Another big advantage is the charming body design. When you see an i-ROAD in town, there's an irresistible urge to wave at the driver! The i-ROAD as shareable private space The i-ROAD as shareable private space ―― Do you see car sharing and other so-called "sharing services" expanding in both scale and diversity over the years to come? Sasao: I actually personally live in a share-house situation, and I've come to the conclusion that it would be nice to have an i-ROAD available for the tenants there and other such venues. I predict a steady increase in the ranks of people like me, who feel fine about sharing residences and other space, with that leading to expanded car-sharing practices as well. Tanaka: The i-ROAD particularly lends itself to sharing. The car is easy for most anyone to drive, with little or no threat of it flipping over. Yet, while I believe that the concept of sharing will continue to expand from here on, I also don't foresee an end to the idea of actually owning things. With cars, for example, I can't imagine that many people won't continue to take joy in cherishing them as trusty motoring companions. In that sense, I think we may see clear lines develop between the qualities of vehicles that are owned versus those that are shared. Sasao: Those experiencing the true fun and convenience of driving thanks to sharing opportunities may very well develop urges to own cars in tune with the particular changes in their lifestyles – getting married, having kids and so forth. ―― Finally, please relate your hopes for the role of the i-ROAD from here on. Sato: With so many cases of urban parking space shortages, it would be great to see an expanded presence for the i-ROAD as a means of making more effective use of the limited area in Tokyo. Tanaka: I'd like to see greater steps to make the i-ROAD more high tech. A truly mind-blowing means of mobility defying definition as either a motorcycle or a car. Even more ideal would be having the i-ROAD transformed into the automatic driving mode by the time it hits the market. Sato: Another welcome touch could be sharing arrangements while the units are parked. With so few benches around our cities, the i-ROAD could supply an alternative source of such private space. You could simply ease back and relax inside the car, or take it out for a spin if desired. All in all, it would be nice to have such public means of personal transportation available for most anyone to use. The OPEN ROAD PROJECT is an initiative aimed at probing the various possibilities in big cities from the keynote concept of "Instilling greater freedom in urban mobility." In this installment we talked with three professionals who work in share-office environments, with the exchanges rich in insights unique to city dwellers. As reflected in the impressions voiced, there are clearly means of mobility best suited to urban settings. This sets the stage for escalating demands for services easing the loads of those who live and work in cities from here on. Besides the business scene, it also seems reasonable to expect i-ROAD sharing services to be handy means of supporting tourism. "Contributing to greater collective happiness through sharing." The i-ROAD appears poised to excel as a functioning symbol of this emerging vision and trend. TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 30 January 2017

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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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