How will the “i-ROAD” urban-style personal mobility vehicle transform cities over the years to come?
To come up with viable answers to this query, the OPEN ROAD PROJECT participated in WXD (Wired by Design), a conference and workshop organized to examine today’s true state-of-the-art designs.
This effort consisted of two special events held in May and June.
Here, we report on Phase 1 of this effort – a test drive event and talk session held at the Toyota Tokyo Design Research Laboratory.
Just what are the horizons for the “Future Mobility” to be forged over the years to come?
“WXD (Wired by Design)” was a conference and workshop gathering held to pioneer new outlooks regarding the “designs” surrounding our everyday lives. As a special event under this theme, the i-ROAD Test Drive and Talk Session took place on May 30.
The event was presented under the title of: “The i-ROAD and Future Cities: TOYOTA Proposals for New Mobility.” This was an ambitious plan, in a nutshell, to get in touch with the “Future Mobility” right on the spot. Invited to the event site – the Toyota Tokyo Design Research Laboratory (in Tokyo’s Hachioji City) – were about 20 loyal readers of WIRED magazine who expressed keen interest in taking part in such a trial.
To further fuel the swelling expectations in this area, the day’s events kicked off with an informative talk session. Emceeing that get-together was WIRED Chief Editor Megumi Wakabayashi, who was followed on the stage by Tomomi Otsuka of the Toyota “Future Project Office” – the team behind the planning and development of the i-ROAD. The discussion focused on the vision channeled into the OPEN ROAD PROJECT, the horizons for ongoing innovation and other core themes. Noted Otsuka: “Our desire is to bring greater freedom to urban mobility. By coming directly to grips with the congestion, cramped spaces and other distinguishing aspects and issues of cities, we feel confident that new potential and appeal will emerge in our field of vision.”
Next up was Takehiro Yanaka of the Toyota Sports Vehicle Management Division, who used a movies presentation to help profile the development process. Yanaka took advantage of this occasion to share certain behind-the-scenes episodes that went into realizing the i-ROAD: “We created the body structure and system based on designs never adopted before, automatic control of the incline for the vertical movement of the two front wheels when cornering and other totally new concepts.”
In the next segment, participants got their first opportunity to actually drive the i-ROAD around the course located on the Laboratory grounds. Let’s pick up on some of the comments of these drivers, who found it difficult to contain the excitement and surprise of that experience: “The riding sensation was fascinating – nothing like I’ve ever felt before.”
“This is an awesome vehicle. I’d definitely like to take it out for a spin around actual city streets.”
“I was getting downright bored with the usual state of cars and driving, but Toyota has certainly resolved that problem.”
The participants also didn’t hesitate to supply a steady stream of ideas for putting the i-ROAD to optimum use and other suggestions.
Following such candid impressions and opinion exchanges, the day’s agenda came to a spirited close. In our next installment, we’ll be reporting on the results of the Phase 2 event in this project – the conference gathering.
- “mobility×design The i-ROAD and Future Cities: TOYOTA Proposals for New Mobility” Test Drive & Talk Session
- トヨタ東京デザイン研究所 東京都八王子市石川町2-3
ISSUED : 4 July 2015
TEXT BY Keita Fukasawa (contributor)
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Tomoyuki Kato