This odd-looking single-passenger electric vehicle (EV) is the Toyota Smart INSECT concept and it made its world premiere today at the CEATEC Japan 2012 advanced technologies exhibition, which runs from October 2 to October 6, in Chiba City, Japan.
The Smart INSECT is a conceptual development of the "COMS" EV produced by the brand's subsidiary Toyota Auto Body Co., and it was designed to display next-generation communications-linked services. The name is an acronym for "Information Network Social Electric City Transporter".
The electric-powered model is equipped with a number of features such as motion sensors, voice recognition and behavior prediction, and it connects with its driver and his or her home via the cloud-based Toyota Smart Center.
Among other things, the Smart INSECT uses facial-recognition technology to detect and authenticate a driver registered with the car and then communicates by opening the doors, flashing the front lights and greeting the driver via the instrument panel monitor.
According to automaker, there's also a "virtual agent" at the Toyota Smart Center who "recognizes the driver's voice and, through communication with the driver, predicts his or her intentions, setting the destination and operating various functions of the vehicle, such as the fog lamps and audio system".
Using voice commands, the driver can also tell the so-called virtual agent to check his or her house and perform certain tasks such as to lock the doors and open or shut down the air-condition from within the vehicle.