San Francisco, Nov. 16, 2015 -- How could Toyota i-Road help change life in the Bay Area?
That’s the question Silicon Valley innovators and entrepreneurs answered at Toyota Onramp 2015, a one-day conference designed for a select group of innovators, investors and car enthusiasts in Silicon Valley to engage with Toyota and explore the future of driving innovation and sustainable mobility together.
The highlight of the event was the "Smart Mobility Challenge. More than 40 teams attended the prejudging event, and 10 teams advanced to the final competition. Participants proposed plans on how Toyota’s personal mobility vehicle could enhance urban traffic environments in the Bay Area, which has seen an increase in people and vehicles, leading to more traffic and less parking availability.
The awarded plans?
||Weiner’s “M-iRoad” concept involved changing the configuration of the i-Road to behave as either an electric bike or a car for different users, such as seniors or unlicensed teenagers over the age of 16
||Featured an Innovative mobility service that takes advantage of on-demand-car and parking services
||An on-demand car sharing service including i-Road pick up and drop off to the user’s location
As the grand prize winner, Weiner will also have the opportunity to explore a collaboration with Toyota to bring his concept to life.
“I’ve wanted to work more at the intersection of my passion for cars and technology, and Toyota’s Smart Mobility Challenge offered me an opportunity to do just that,” said Weiner, a technical consultant by day. “I can’t wait to see if my idea is realized and am very excited by the opportunity to collaborate with Toyota.”
Using an open innovation model, Toyota Onramp 2015 allows Toyota to expand its traditional approaches to obtain new ideas for products and services. This is the second Onramp event sponsored by Toyota. The first, held last December, explored connected car app development, seeking new mobility enjoyment ideas from app developers.
In addition to the Smart Mobility Challenge, Onramp featured addresses and panels by some of the foremost thinkers in smart mobility finance, engineering and urban planning, including Norwest Venture Partners’ Sergio Monsalve; Ratna Amin, transportation policy director at SPUR; Akihiro Yanaka, project general manager in charge of i-Road development; and Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Vehicle.
Dr. Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute, Inc., a recently announced R&D enterprise that will initially focus on artificial intelligence joined the speakers to judge the Smart Mobility Challenge.
Additionally, event attendees had the opportunity to test drive the Mirai and i-Road, vehicles that represent the most advanced thinking in mobility innovation.
“The Toyota i-Road provides a swinging driving experience and a sense of unity with the vehicle,” says Yanaka. “It has the potential to significantly change future urban transport systems. I was very excited with the opportunity to speak directly with the Silicon Valley teams and hear many ideas I never considered. I also appreciated hearing positive feedback from the participants after test driving i-Road.”
For more information about the event, go to http://toyotaonramp.com.