Toyota showcases Smart Insect concept car

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Toyota's latest concept car is dubbed the Smart Insect and is somewhat reminiscent of a Smart car, if only a tad smaller.

Nevertheless, Toyota's concept - which will likely never see production in its current iteration - still boasts some pretty sweet tech designed to recognize and anticipate driver feedback.

The little electric vehicle charges from a standard 100 V outlet and is equipped with gull wing doors that open widely. The Smart Insect also boasts a comprehensive motion detection system powered by a Microsoft Kinect sensor that is used to recognize and respond to a driver based on face and body shape.

Toyota also claims the motion detection technology can predict the driver's behavior by analyzing his or her movements and determining when to open the door automatically. Frankly, this sounds a bit unnerving to me, as if you make a strange move while stopped at a red light it seems the doors could possibly open accidentally.

Then again, one could probably safely assume that Toyota installed some sort of integrated safety technology  designed specifically to prevent the doors from opening - unless the vehicle is completely stopped and in parking mode. In any case, the motion detection technology also activates a front and rear display - showing a welcome message and opening a door (based on voice recognition) when the driver approaches the car.

In addition, Toyota has fitted a wireless charging pad for smartphones, along with a dash mounted display that connects to your handset. The concept car supports close integration with mobile apps, allowing the owner to adjust air-conditioning and lock the doors using their smartphones.

One of the most interesting features of this concept car? It is only equipped with a single seat. So if you're wondering how some of these odd concept features might translate into a production car, simply put, they won't. Toyota has been clear that it will not be producing this vehicle, although some of the tech is likely to find its way to future vehicles rolling off the production lines and onto American streets.