Fascinating future rides for the elderly, PWD
More News from Charles E. Buban
With a life expectancy of 87 years, Japanese are among the longest-living people on the planet.
There is a downside to this, however. Japan’s population of 127.11 million is projected to shrink by about a third in the next 50 years.
This is because the proportion of elderly Japanese aged 65 and older—currently 26.7 percent, which is already about a quarter—is expected to reach 38 percent in that time frame.
In comparison, the number of elderly individuals in the Philippines comprised just about 7 percent of the total population of 105 million.
While their number is also expected to increase faster than growth of the total population, the National Statistics Office projects that by 2030, elderly Filipinos will make up around 11.5 percent of the total population.
No wonder then that in the recently concluded 45th Tokyo Motorshow, a number of concepts presented were geared toward making life safer and more convenient for aging and less mobile individuals.
Toyota Motor Corp. showcased Concept-i Ride, a two-seater transport intended specifically for drivers already on wheelchair.
The Concept i-Ride features no pedals for acceleration and gas, and instead, uses joysticks located on both armrests of the driver’s seat, wherein shifting the controller forward will move the car forward, and likewise for backward, right and left.
It’s also ready for the auto-drive environment should the driver decide to simply sit and enjoy the view outside the vehicle. This car could even provide information on whether the driver’s destination is wheelchair-friendly.
The Concept i-Ride’s body design allows the driver on a wheelchair to be lifted using the car’s power door.
Once positioned inside, the wheelchair can be stowed to the back of the cabin without taking up crucial driver cabin space.
This vehicle is designed to be fully electric with a total range of between 100 km and 150 km on a single charge.
That’s not industry leading by any means, but it should work well for those living in the city and are looking for a convenient ride they can use to run errands or the occasional short day trips.
Toyota hopes to field the Concept-i series by around 2020.
Self driving, income generator
With automated driving all the rage, Honda Motor Co. showcased the NeuV (New electric urban Vehicle), a city-friendly lightweight electric concept car that is equipped with the Honda Automated Network Assistant (Hana) to help personalize the driving experience.
Through Hana, the car becomes aware of the driver’s emotions and moods.
It studies driver’s reactions and patterns using AI technology developed with SoftBank, and offers recommendations for music entertainment and tips for daily driving.
Considering this electric concept vehicle could drive by itself, NeuV is also designed to help solve the issue of having too many vehicles just sitting idle in driveways or parking areas.
Honda says the two-seat vehicle could be programmed to pick up and drop off passengers when its owner isn’t using it, or to sell back remaining energy to the grid, thus letting owners generate revenue from their vehicles.
Developed at the Honda Advanced Design in Los Angeles, California, the NeuV features doors that only extend about 20 mm beyond the frame of the car, and then pivot upwards to a 90-degree angle.
This design ensures that the doors are accessible even in the tightest spaces, and has the added benefit of making it possible to build a very low step allowing easier access when getting in or out of the vehicle.
The NeuV could be especially popular in Japan where many urban motorists are reluctant to buy cars because they only drive on weekends (they have a very efficient subway and railway system).
The NeuV may or may not be the future vehicle for Honda, but either way, some of these technologies and ideas will definitely make their way into future Honda products.
Balancing on two wheels
Are you a newbie on two wheels or one who’s no longer confident in riding one? Don’t worry, in just a few years, Honda is set to offer a motor bike equipped with the company’s Riding Assist Technology.
It leverages Honda’s advances in robotics (remember Asimo?) to create a self-balancing motorcycle that greatly reduces the possibility of falling over while the motorcycle is at rest. No more dropping your bike at a stop sign or during low-speed maneuver.
Rather than relying on gyroscopes, which add a great deal of weight and alter the riding experience, Honda engineers explain that Riding Assist incorporates technology originally developed for the company’s Uni-Cub personal mobility device (essentially a sit-on Segway without any handlebars).
Ride Assist features a newly developed “brain” that manages a steer-by-wire system and a few electric motors that turn the front wheel and change the front-end geometry to remain upright even when at rest or moving at very low speed.
While Honda hasn’t announced any plans to put Riding Assist into production, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the technology included in a future Honda motorcycle model.
While slightly eerie to watch a two-wheeled ride standing upright on its own, this technology would be a huge help for newbie bikers or anyone who may already find it hard to handle, say, a 200-kg motorbike.