Some of us want unusual vehicles and gadgets. We want vehicles that offer us the last mile transport solution. What if we could have a car as our best friend? The CanguRo is all these and more. It offers more than just a comfortable ride. It somehow satisfies our need for ‘out of the ordinary’. This is because it has the ability to follow its users around between rides, and at least makes a point of meeting them at a preset destination. How cool is that?
Features of the CanguRo
This phenomenal piece of tech was developed by Shunji Yamanaka of the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan. Shunji operated under the Future Robot Technology Research Center (fuRo) during the conception of the CanguRo. The result was a vehicle designed to be a (slow poke) people mover and a follow-me personal assistant.
Personal Assistant mode
While in the personal assistant mode, it is 21.6 inches long and utilizes artificial intelligence smarts code-named scanSLAM to create 3-Dimensional maps with data input from sensors. The CanguRo can estimate its location within these spaces.
The sensor array includes 3D LiDAR, a distance sensor and wide angle camera. Using fuRo’s very own robot operating system, it can automatically follow its user around or be controlled wirelessly via a smartphone or tablet. Additionally, it can be sent to a specific location, to meet up with its user after their other engagement.
While still as an assistant, it can carry heavy loads such as your shopping to your house.
Scooter-like operation mode
At times you may feel too tired or just lazy. A tap on the accompanying app will instruct the robot to transform into a scooter-like vehicle so you can get to your preferred destination at a temperate speed of about 6.2 mph (10 kph).
This is the second CanguRo operation mode where the seat is raised and the length is adjusted to 29.5 inches. Movement can be accredited to the action of the in-wheel brushless motors on the 12-inch wheels at the front. Steering is conducted by the chunky 10-inch rear wheels.
Besides autonomous driving, manual control is also possible. In this control mode, the rider is able to control the speed using a throttle, and the direction by leaning either left or right. A smart-stop feature accessible in this mode will take over if a hazard is spotted up ahead.
The ride weighs 140 pounds and doesn’t use a display to notify the user of their speed. It looks very production ready but it is highly unlikely that we shall be seeing it on sale anywhere given that it is still a research project.