Both Honda and Toyota seem to be quite interested in producing Segway-like personal mobility devices for human usage. Toyota has the i-REAL, and this latest gadget from Honda is called the U3-X. It’s still a concept for now, a compact experimental device that fits between the rider’s legs, to provide free movement in all directions just as in human walking – forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonally.
Honda’s balance control technology – gained from the robotics research of Honda’s bi-pedal ASIMO robot – enables the rider to control the U3-X by leaning his or her upper body to shift body weight. The U3-X moves via a wheel that Honda calls the Honda Omni Traction Drive System, or HOT Drive System. The letter U stands for “unicycle” and “universal”.
It enables movement in all directions, including not only forward and backward, but also directly to the right and left and diagonally. Basically you sit on it like a stool, and lean around to move. The height of the device is designed to enable the user to be placed roughly the same eye level as other people. Top speed isn’t much, considering your upright position perhaps it’s for the better. You can travel at speeds of up to 6km/h. The U3-X itself weighs less than 10kg, can run for an hour with a full charge, and uses a lithium ion battery.
The U3-X will be one of Honda’s exhibits at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show 2009 that will happen towards the end of October 2009. You can probably expect the new Honda boss Takanobu Ito to ride out onto the stage on one of these to deliver his opening speech :D
Look after the jump for more shots and videos of this gadget.
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