Blessed with the looks of a giant tree frog, a frankly ridiculous name and a selection of comical antics and expressions, the Flesby 2 at first sight appears to be something of a joke. And it is actually very funny.
But a closer look reveals a rather more serious attempt at redefining what the relationship between a user and a vehicle could look like – particularly in the case of autonomous vehicles. More like a friendly pet than a metallic machine, the Flesby communicates through lighting buried under its tactile fabric skin and a series of creature-like motions such as squatting down, expanding areas such as the wheelcovers and even a rather convincing rhythmic ‘breathing’.
Toyoda Gosei is a supplier to the industry which specialises in rubber, plastics and LEDs; this is a showcase for the firm’s skills, and its ‘e-Rubber’ skin is both soft to the touch, impact-absorbent for pedestrian safety and flexes when an electric current is applied in a slightly disconcerting, lifelike way. There’s a lot to think about here, when you stop giggling.
Watch the video below and see if you can keep a straight face...