Best Inventions 2005: Roll With It

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Handles Like a Dream
Inventor: Yoshiaki Kato of Toyota
Availability: Prototype only
To Learn More:
The i-unit is a four-wheel personal-transportation system that looks like a space-age sports car. "This is designed to be an extension of the human body," says Yoshiaki Kato, chief engineer of the fully electronic, drive-by-wire concept vehicle, which is powered by lithium-ion batteries and has an exterior made of biodegradable, plant-based materials. The 3-ft.-wide, leaf-shaped i-unit is nearly 6 ft. tall when positioned upright but drops its center of gravity and reclines into a sports-car position for traveling at speeds of up to 25 m.p.h. Sensors allow the vehicle to detect obstacles. Place the steering unit to the left or right — or even at the feet of those with special needs.
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