Anyone who's ever had to help a wheelchair-bound person into an average car or minivan -- one without a lift -- knows that the process can be exhausting. And with America's Baby Boomer population moving quickly toward senior status, the travails of transporting the elderly and infirm are likely to get worse. To make things a bit easier, Toyota showed off a handy add-on at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show: the Auto Access Seat. As you can see in the video below, the seat rotates a full 90 degrees and descends to pick up the passenger. It can accommodate individuals of up to 330 pounds, and it will be available on Toyota Sienna minivans as of next month.
Apparently this is a standard option on most Japanese automobiles (not surprising, given the country's well-known respect for elders), but it's the first such device offered by an automaker in North America. True, it may not be as sexy as a scoop or a well-formed sunroof, but when it's your turn to pick up Cousin Bette for Sunday dinner, you'll thank Toyota for it.