Mobility Merger: Blurring the Line Between Driver and Vehicle

Mobility Merger: Blurring the Line Between Driver and Vehicle
According to Toyota, the I-Unit's design was "inspired by the leaf that converts sunlight into life energy, seeks to express the power of the unknown, the logic of living things and the simple beauty of waste-free functionality." The upright position (left) is for slow speeds; the open (right) for letting loose. Image
(Image: © Toyota)
  • Seamless transformation between vehicle and human movement, minimizing occupied space
  • Variable positioning; move among other people in an upright position in low-speed mode - then recline to establish a low center of gravity in high-speed mode.
  • Drive-by-wire and intuitive handling, with a driver support system utilizing sound, light and vibration to facilitate interactive communication
  • Intelligent Transport System technology to permit safe and efficient autopilot driving.
  • Body color can be customized according to the individual's preferences and emotions.
Image 1 of 1

However, I started thinking that if the union of driver and vehicle is here, then the union of astronaut and spacecraft can't be too far behind. Science fiction has some interesting examples of what happens when the human pilot is either part machine himself, or connects with it in a far more intimate way that we see today.

In his 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein referred to cyborg pilots who were able to become more a part of the ship than normal pilots.

A more unusual example can be found in Babel-17, the award-winning novel by Samuel R. Delany. In this future Earth, people used decorative implants of such variety and extent that the most pierced person you know seems virgin unmodified homonid by comparison. In this excerpt, Rydra Wong is about to watch two pilots wrestle in an artificial gravity field:

Read the Toyota i-unit press release.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.