So you want to get from your house to, say, the train station as quickly and economically as possible. You don't mind using different modes of transport, but not taxis because they are expensive and unnecessarily harmful to the environment. Most of all, you want it to be easy.
This ideological vision of environmentally conscious urban transport is, however, time consuming to plan and execute, and then frustrating when public transport doesn't play along, which is most of the time. It may soon become reality, though, as Toyota Motor Corporation are closing in on a solution that will do it for you. It's called Ha:mo.
Testing on Ha:mo, or 'harmonious mobility', recently began in Toyota City (home of Toyota Motor Corporation's chief Tsutsumi plant, hence the eponym). The name is suggestive of a mobility system that achieves harmony among people and where they live, and the idea is simple. Simple in theory, that is, but unfathomably complicated to execute. This is how it works:
Part 1 - Ha:mo Navi
Accessed and operated via a smartphone application, this aspect of Ha:mo analyses traffic patterns from trains, buses and cars (and, yes, taxis) and devises your “optimal transport method” based on the forecasts predicted and your chosen destination. Should you use your own vehicle, as many do, Ha:mo Navi will also provision for park-and-ride facilities. The below screenshot is in Japanese, but it looks fairly intuitive.
Part 2 - Ha:mo Ride
The more tangible aspect of Ha:mo involves car sharing with compact one-seater EVs. They're not the most fashionable rides you've ever seen, but that's not the point. Stationed at unmanned vehicles stations (four in total for this trial, with ten vehicles), the cars are booked through a smartphone app and are intended for one way travel. For example, you might you use Ha:mo Navi to get you across town to a tube station, and then use a Ha:mo Ride vehicle for the remaining kilometre or so to your destination (maximum range will only be a couple of kilometres). It seems to be a more considered and idealistic setup than the Parisian Autolib', which looks haphazard by comparison.
Initially the service will be available to 100-or-so lucky students and employees of the local Chukyo University, although Toyota and Toyota City intend to increase the number of stations to between ten and twenty, with 100 vehicles and 1,000 members. If and when Ha:mo reaches this point, a fee will be charged (the trial is free for users).
The overall aim is to “link individual users, transportation system operators and communities to enable searches for seamless yet low-emission transport routes”, and it seems like a brilliant idea, albiet one which may have to overcome some teething problems.
EDIT: Toyota have recently released an animated video on Ha:mo -
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