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JUN TAKAGI FOR TIME
Handles Like a Dream
Inventor: Yoshiaki Kato of Toyota
Availability: Prototype only
To Learn More: www.toyota.co.jp/en/news/04/1203_1e.html
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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