WHEN Jeremy Clarskon showed off his personally-designed robotic car on a recent episode of Top Gear it was described as the world’s smallest. But inventors in Japan have gone one better - developing a tiny car that can automatically take passengers from A to B without them having to do a thing.
Japanese tech conglomerate Hitachi today revealed its new Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport System (Ropits, for short) in the city of Tsukuba in the Ibaraki Prefecture. The one man mobility robot can pick-up and drop off a passenger autonomously, while, in emergencies, passengers can seize control of the vehicle using a joystick controller in the cockpit.
Originally developed to help those who have difficulty walking - an increasing number of people in Japan’s ageing society - Ropits is designed to be small enough to move through pedestrian spaces.
Clarkson unveiled the P45, designed by the presenter himself, in February on the first episode of Top Gear’s most recent series.
Clarkson tested the four-wheel vehicle on the streets of Guildford, hitting 34mph at one stage as he weaved around traffic in the tiny vehicle.
Looking uncomfortable within the car’s miniscule frame, Clarkson said: ‘I’m just staggered that Ford, GM, Toyota, all of the automotive giants haven’t thought to make a car like this yet.’
The Japanese robot is equipped with GPS to allow it to find its way, as well as laser distance sensors to look out for obstacles and a gyro sensor to help it stay upright while negotiating uneven ground.
Passengers need only specify their desired destination on a touch-screen map and the machine will automatically drive them there.
Similarly, anyone who needs a ride will be able to call a Ropits vehicle from any number of computer-networked ‘stops’ dotted around the city.
The vehicle is also equipped with ‘active suspension’ which controls each wheel individually to enable it to tackle curbs and uneven ground while keeping passengers comfortably upright.                  –Daily Mail