A new breed of wearable robotic vehicles that envelop drivers are being developed by Japanese car giant Toyota.

The company’s vision for the single passenger in the 21st Century involves the driver cruising by in a four-wheeled leaf-like device or strolling along encased in an egg-shaped cocoon that walks upright on two feet.

Both these prototypes will be demonstrated, along with other concept vehicles and helper robots, at the Toyota stand at the Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan, in March 2005.

The models are being positioned as so-called personal mobility devices, which have few limits.

The open leaf-like “i-unit” vehicle is the latest version of the concept which the company introduced last year.

Built using environmentally friendly plant-based materials, the single passenger unit is equipped with intelligent transport system technologies that allow for safe autopilot driving in specially equipped lanes.

The model allows the user to make tight on-the-spot turns, move upright amongst other people at low speeds and can be easily switched into a reclining position at higher speeds.

Body colours can be customized to suit individual preferences and a personal recognition system offers both information and music.

More here.