• Sep 24th 2009 at 7:26PM
  • 56
Honda U3-X - Click above for high-res image gallery

We've seen our fair share of personal mobility devices over the past few years -- from the ill-received Segway to Toyota's i-Real. Now, Honda's joining the minimalist motoring set with its own limb-atrophying U3-X.

Using technology originally developed for ASIMO the robot, the "U" in U3-X stands for both "universal" and "unicycle," and that's where the interesting tech resides. Housed within the large wheel are a series of smaller wheels that can rotate independently, allowing the awkwardly perched user to go forward, backward, side-to-side or diagonally. Like the Segway, the person piloting the U3-X simply leans in the desired direction to control the movement through the Honda Omni Traction Drive System (HOT).

Honda's keen to point out that the 22-pound U3-X is ultra-portable and easy to use, with fold away footrests and seat cushions. A single, lithium ion battery powers the electric motors up to one hour and the maximum speed is just a few ticks under four MPH.

We'll see the U3-X in person next month at the Tokyo Motor Show, but before then, you can get an eyeful in the gallery below and make the jump for several videos of the U3-X in action, along with Honda's press release.



Honda Develops Revolutionary New Personal Mobility Device to Work in Harmony with People

World's first driving system capable of 360 degree movement

Pursuing the concept of "harmony with people" Honda has developed a new personal mobility technology and unveiled U3-X, a compact experimental device to provide free movement in all directions just like human walking - forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonally. Honda will continue research and development of the device including experiments in the real-world environment to verify the practicality of the device.

This new personal mobility device makes it possible to adjust speed, move, turn and stop in all directions when the rider leans their upper body to shift their body weight. This was achieved through application of advanced technologies including Honda's balance control technology, which was developed through ASIMO (Honda's bipedal humanoid robot) robotics research, and the world's first* omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System, or HOT Drive System), which enables movement in all directions, not only forward and backward, but also directly to the right and left and diagonally. In addition, the compact, one-wheel-drive personal mobility device was designed to be user friendly and unimposing to people around it. This is achieved by making it easy for the rider to reach the ground from the footrest and by seating the rider at roughly the same eye level as a person standing.

Honda is planning to showcase the U3-X at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show 2009 (sponsored by JAMA) which will begin on 24th October 2009 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.

Honda has been conducting robotics research since 1986 at the Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Fundamental Technology Research Center in Wako, Saitama, Japan, striving to develop the next-generation mobility products that bring joy to our customers. These research projects includes ASIMO, walking assist devices and U3-X.

* Based on Honda's internal research

Key features of U3-X

Free movement just like human walking

1. The device is controlled by application of balance control technology refined through ASIMO research. The incline sensor detects the tilt of the device created by the weight shift of the rider and subsequently determines the rider's intention in terms of direction and speed. Based on the data, precise control is applied to return the device to an upright position, which allows for smooth and agile movements and simple operation.

2. HOT Drive System (Omni-directional driving wheel system):Honda has developed the world's first wheel structure which enables movement in all directions including forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally. Multiple small-diameter motor-controlled wheels are connected in-line to form one large-diameter wheel. By moving the large-diameter wheel, the device moves forward and backward, and by moving small-diameter wheels, the device moves side-to-side. By combining these movements the device can also move diagonally.

Compact and innovative package

3. Slim enough to ride between legs and carry with one arm : The combination of the balance control technology and the HOT Drive System enabled the one-wheel style compact and innovative package of the device. In addition, the monocoque body houses the folding seat, foot rests and body cover, which also acts as the frame, making the device light weight and portable.

Key specifications of the experimental model:

Length×Width×Height(mm) :315×160×650

Weight: less than 10kg

Battery Type: Lithium ion battery

Operation time (with fully charged battery): 1 hour

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      ...Because walking's just plain stupid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just wanted to say that the comments on this post have been some of the best and have been absolutely hilarious.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just what the doctor ordered!
      • 5 Years Ago
      looks like the next gen Sybian
        • 5 Years Ago
        Two girls and a Honda.

        • 5 Years Ago
        that's what I was thinking.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This must be the next Acura...
      • 5 Years Ago
      For real? They're serious?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The riders look like their urinating while riding. Plus, how can you carry anything when you have to hold both hands on the seat?
      • 5 Years Ago
      When your ass is too lazy to go 4 mph...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Anyone seen WALL-E?

      Sooner or later everyone will be like those on the Axiom.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Put a bigger engine in there, then I'd buy it. If it's being marketed as a personal mobility device, it should beat someone walking. Otherwise worthless.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now just put every mall cop on one of these
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Wall-E-fication of the human race has now begun!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Don't mind me; I'm just here for the cute Asian girls.
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