Honda has developed a new personal mobility technology, U3-X. It is a compact experimental device that fits comfortably between the riders legs, to provide free movement in all directions just as in human walking forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonally.
Lest one assumes that this is for lazy, fat-assed Americans, this prototype is actually addressing a coming need in Japan, one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world, and concerns about how the elderly get around. It can stand upright unaided and the rider sits on it as they would a stool, with their feet on footrests. The unicycle maintains its balance as it scoots around at (slow) speeds of up to 3.7mph.
The U3-X, shaped liked the number eight with a wheel at the bottom and seat at the top, was unveiled [Thursday] to reporters in Japan. The wheel comprises a series of smaller motorised wheels within a larger one, which enables the rider to manoeuvre sideways as well as forwards and backwards by leaning their body in the direction they want to go. [full story with another video]
Let’s face it. I love this thing because it’s shaped like the number 8! But unlike the Segway, which I thought was uber cool when I first saw it, I don’t feel like it’s a toy I’d buy for the fun of it. I guess if I had mobility issues, something like this would be a godsend, so Honda will continue research and development of the device including experiments in a real-world environment to verify the practicality of the device.