Tokyo-A narrow three-wheeled electric vehicle could offer commuters the freedom to squeeze through traffic jams as if were driving a motorbike, while offering the stability and safety of being inside a car.
Toyota’s i-ROAD personal mobility vehicle is designed for negotiating busy city streets and is no wider than a standard motorbike, but can be driven like a car thanks to intelligent front wheels that automatically adjust to suit the driver’s actions.
The trike uses ‘Active Lean’ technology that allows its wheels to move up and down to calculate the best position for going round tight corners, or weaving in and out of traffic.
This makes the vehicle lean a little like a motorbike, yet the driver can operate the vehicle without noticing the automated technology to drive the vehicle like a normal car.
The i-ROAD could be the answer for people who like the idea of cutting through traffic on a motorbike, but like the creature comforts of their car. It seats two people under cover, is ‘intuitive’ to drive’ and there is no need for a helmet, according to the company.
The Active Lean technology is the key to the vehicle’s stability, safety and comfort, Toyota told Mail Online, as it offers a stable ride without the driver having to maintain the balance of the vehicle.
The system uses a lean actuator and gearing mounted above the front suspension member, linked via a yoke to the left and right front wheels.
An engine control unit calculates the required degree of lean based on steering angle, gyro-sensor and vehicle speed information, with the system automatically moving the wheels up and down in opposite directions, applying lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering. The system also operates when the vehicle is being driven in a straight line over stepped surfaces, the actuator automatically compensating for changes in the road to keep the body level. This means that if a driver tries to park the trike and rides up on a kerb, it will stay level.