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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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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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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Test Drive Pilots | 2016.8.30

Pilot Meeting Report

This session took place on July 10, bringing together under the same roof the Pilots who made this historic undertaking possible, with the idea of providing reports on their visions of &quat;i-ROAD and the Future of Urban Mobility.&quat; The setting was a certain venue near Harajuku Station, with Pilots and their family members encouraged to take part. As they arrived, everyone grew noticeably nostalgic about coming into contact with the i-ROAD again. The Pilots themselves were also visibly delighted to be reunited with past driving mates after the passage of several months or more. As a result, the site was immediately enveloped in a buoyant and lively atmosphere, soon overflowing with animated conversation.     The meeting officially began with greetings from members of the Toyota Motor Corporation Future Project Office, organizer of the i-ROAD undertaking. That was followed by a video report which was screened for the first time, covering the yearlong project from the initial unveiling of the i-ROAD super-compact car. These images triggered natural outbreaks of applause and beaming faces from the Pilots and the project staffers. The video included special mention of the Pilot who logged the greatest distance during his respective month-long test-riding period – over 1,000 kilometers in all! That tidbit triggered thunderous cheers from everyone present.     Next came time to chat and exchange information. The Pilots wasted no time in congregating around the i-ROAD units on exhibit and the prototype display area. They especially stared intently at the prototypes, which were being seen for the very first time. Many of the Pilots proceeded to pepper the Project Secretariat staffers with a steady stream of spirited questions and comments. The staffers also rose to the occasion, delivering energized explanations.     Outside the venue, an i-ROAD test drive session was held. As former Pilots gripped the steering wheels of the i-ROAD for the first time in months, their faces once again lit up in blissful smiles. Many of the children on hand were also unable to contain their excitement at taking first-ever rides in the “i-ROAD for Two” spec model. The staffers on hand were clearly pleased as Punch by such heartwarming sights. Gazing around the room, numerous groups of Pilots and project coordinators could be seen gathering here and there in circles to discuss their sentiments and memories of the i-ROAD and the project. This exuberant mood continued unbroken right up to the end of the session.   As closing time drew near, participants continued to gather around the i-ROAD models on display at the edges of the venue, with no letup in the conversation and recollections. Clearly teeming with enthusiasm and adoration, the Pilot Meeting organized for i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots from all eight phases of the project came to an end at last. The i-ROAD project has been conceived as an endeavor to better define the mobility of the future, with the congested urban center of Tokyo chosen as the staging ground in a move. Self-evident from the satisfied expressions and comments of all 96 Test Pilots who joined in this gathering was more than just the charisma they clearly sense in the i-ROAD as a product. They also spoke eagerly about their ideas of the impressive future lifestyle potential harbored in the i-ROAD, and all of the new services that this revolutionary new vehicle promises to usher into our daily routines. With mobility as the starting line, it is dearly hoped that our lives will grow increasingly more enjoyable and richer in substance over the years to come. In that sense, what we have been able to perceive through the medium of these i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots are increasingly clear images of what the cities of the near future are shaping up to be. ISSUED : 30 August 2016

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