Aisin's new mobility projectAisin's personal mobility aimed at creating a society where everyone can go out without hesitation
Amid various problems, including an aging population combined with a low birthrate, atmospheric pollution and global warming, the role of mobility vehicles is about to change. Currently, electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and other long-range mobility vehicles, which will replace conventional gasoline vehicles, are being developed across the world, while the development of personal mobility vehicles for the last one mile (the ultra-short distance from getting out of the train or car to the final destination) is also attracting attention. Under the circumstances, Aisin has developed a personal mobility vehicle named ILY-Ai. With the growth of new mobility vehicles that are different from traditional cars and motorbikes, how will our society change? We interviewed the project leader Hiroyasu Hosoi about the future envisioned by ILY-Ai.
- 1. What is ILY-Ai, the personal mobility vehicle opening the way to the future?
- 2. The future shape of the development team became clear when we put up a slogan
- 3. Mobility vehicle loved beyond generations and coexisting with people
- 4. Opening up to the future of personal mobility by creating a mechanism for boosting demand
Development of ILY-Ai Hiroyasu Hosoi
/What is ILY-Ai, the personal mobility vehicle opening the way to the future?
ILY-Ai is a personal mobility vehicle for short-distance movement developed by Aisin. It has a three-wheeled structure: two in the front and one in the rear. The user can move it while standing on the step or sitting on the seat, and it can be used also as like a shopping cart by pushing it. ILY-Ai, which changes into various shapes according to the purpose, is an unprecedented mobility vehicle.
Furthermore, the wide step allows an adult and a child to ride together, and the relatively high seat relieves the burden on the knees and the back when a user gets in and out of the vehicle. In this way, consideration for users is embedded throughout ILY-Ai unit. Its maximum speed is adjusted to approximately 4 km/h, or walking pace. Since it is extremely simple to operate, anyone can easily handle it, regardless of age or sex, which is a major feature of ILY-Ai. Hosoi, who has been acting as the leader since the start of development in 2015, analyzed the strengths of ILY-Ai.
"ILY-Ai is brimming with expertise that Aisin has accumulated in its automobile parts manufacturing in the chassis, vehicle safety, control and connected car fields. On this basis, we have given meticulous attention to its performance and detailed design to ensure that it is not a mobility vehicle intended only for specific users, but a mobility vehicle that enables anyone to enjoy comfortable movement. I believe the ability to develop this type of ultra-small electric vehicle from scratch is a strength specific to Aisin, which is engaged in developing automobile parts in various fields."
In March 2020, ILY-Ai units were introduced into a shopping mall in Gifu Prefecture, and started operation on a trial basis. In September, Aisin began studies toward demonstration experiments for automatic product pickup and automatic conveyance to a parking lot using ILY-Ai. Furthermore, in November 2020, ILY-Ai started operation as a shopping cart and a mobility vehicle for in-shop movement in Aichi Prefecture. In this way, ILY-Ai is steadily widening its appeal.
Aiming for all perople to be able to move freely, while meeting the needs of the times
In the movement support field, which is aimed at providing solutions for people who have difficulty in movement according to the needs of the times, senior citizens and disabled people are always attentioned. However, there are various types of people who have difficulty in movement, including those who easily become tired, are accompanied by a child/children, or are carrying luggage, as well as injured persons and expectant mothers. ILY-Ai was started development aim for creating a society for everyone, including those who have difficulty with movement can go out without hesitation. Arriving at the optimal solution to challenges for ultra-short distance (last one-mile) travel means of movement in a complex traffic society, with MaaS and other services by making the most of their expertise, is also a major mission of Aisin.
ILY-Ai, which was born against this background, embraces expectations for a bright future for humans and mobility.
/The future shape of the development team became clear when we put up a slogan
Although ILY-Ai has captured great attention since it first came out, the path to the start of operation was never smooth, for what was being developed was not a traditional car or motorbike, but a brand new mobility vehicle that had not previously existed in the world. Finding a solution was never easy.
Although development members engaged in discussions almost every day, they only argued with each other and thus the discussions did not move forward significantly. Sometimes they nearly started quarreling. They are all so serious. To find a solution, Hosoi decided to declare a slogan for the entire team. It was "Let's go out! Let's have an adventure! A broadened world, a connected society."
"What do people who have difficulty with movement need to step out of their house? How can they go where they have not been able to go, and even beyond? How should we communicate a new landscape or encounter there? What form should the communication between mobility vehicle users and pedestrians take? To solve these problems, we visited sites and observed users to thoroughly discuss what we should become."
After the members started marching in step with each other in this way, the team led by Hosoi first made simplified prototypes.
"By actually operating them, we experienced what was successful and what wasn't successful, and made prototypes repeatedly to gain experience. Also, we had our families, friends and acquaintances actually use the prototypes to give honest feedback. Through a lot of trial and error, we determined how the product should be."
/Mobility vehicle loved beyond generations and coexisting with people
Hosoi considered the design as an element essential for ILY-Ai, for he was originally specialized in product design and recognized the importance of making a design that made users want to ride ILY-Ai in order to realize the sentiment "Let's go out riding a mobility vehicle!"
"For example, we want senior people not to ride ILY-Ai reluctantly but to regard ILY-Ai as a partner they want to go out in with confidence. However, that alone is not enough. Since we had to create a new personal mobility vehicle that 'everyone' wants to ride, we used not only designs of existing personal mobility vehicles, but also designs of furniture and other things with sophisticated functional beauty that are loved by many people regardless of age, as a reference. In this way, we gave shape to the ideal image of personal mobility vehicles original to Aisin."
Hosoi considers that the ideal image lay in building a relationship of coexistence between people and personal mobility vehicles.
"People inherently want to walk by themselves if they can. We do not want our mobility vehicle to be mere a tool for spoiling users. What we aim for is not dependence but coexistence. We should aim for the health promotion of and support for people who have difficulty walking."
/Opening up to the future of personal mobility by creating a mechanism for boosting demand
However, even if we developed an innovative mobility vehicle, it is not until it is actually implemented in society that it can lead to the resolution of social challenges. To this end, Hosoi thinks it necessary to develop a scenario for achieving implementation in society from multiple aspects in terms of both the technology and the business model.
"We want as many people as possible to use ILY-Ai and other personal mobility vehicles to feel happy, thereby leading to growing calls to expand their use across the entire society. I believe that when they become needed by society in this way to allow a lifestyle with personal mobility vehicles to take root in society, the SDGs can be achieved in the true sense."
The evolution of mobility vehicles themselves will follow. There is a plan to conduct many demonstration experiments in the field of autonomous driving such as automatic follow-up and automatic return to the home base after disembarking, in addition to automatic braking and obstacle avoidance and other safety functions, in the next few years. How will Aisin's technologies be involved in this turbulent society? A contest with an eye on the future of mobility vehicles has already begun.
- A personal mobility vehicle whose development began in 2015. As it can be transformed into a cart and a user can ride it with a child, it can be used according to the situation, responding to various purposes in movement. Development of intelligent safety technologies, including obstacle avoidance, automatic braking and automatic follow-up technologies, is accelerating.