TOKYO -- Toyota wants to generate some buzz with its latest concept vehicle, a micro electric car called the Smart Insect.
The one-seat, gull-winged ride is supposed to embody all that is next-generation about on-board information technology.
It is packed with motion sensors, voice and behavior recognition software and cloud-based communication systems.
Toyota Motor Corp. will show the flea-sized four-wheeler at the CEATEC electronics trade show starting Oct. 2 outside Tokyo.
Among the Insect's features:
- Facial recognition technology that authenticates the vehicle's registered driver to clear the car for driving.
- Motion detectors that allow drivers to operate functions with gestures, such as opening doors with a wave of the hand.
- A so-called "virtual agent" that learns to predict the driver's behavior and preprograms settings for such things as vehicle navigation, fog lights and the audio system.
- Smart-phone content that can be accessed via voice commands
- Car locks and climate control that can be operated remotely through cloud computing from a person's home.
Early-generation versions of some of these technologies are already being offered on the market. And judging by their performance so far, perhaps Insect is a good choice of names:
These new systems are often full of bugs.
Toyota, of course, has a different explanation for the name.
Insect is an acronym for "information network social electric city transporter." And Toyota says the moniker aims to "convey an image of a small insect that flies around on large wings, in the same way as the vehicle freely navigates through and uses an information network."
That too is not very reassuring.