Honda today announced a new "personal mobility device" called the Honda U3-X. You might be forgiven for referring to the U3-X as somewhat of a bionic unicycle, as the rider sits directly on top of the driving wheel.
Honda says the U3-X makes it possible to adjust speed and move, turn and stop in all directions when the rider leans the upper body to shift body weight. In many ways this makes the Honda U3-X like the Segway PT in that the unit self balances and uses the rider / driver's own balance as a way to position the vehicle and move faster. Unlike the Segway, the Honda rider actually sits down on the U3-X, whereas the Segway driver stands up on a platform.
The Honda U3-X is about 2 feet tall and weighs about 22 lbs. It runs on a lithium ion battery with an operation time of one hour on a full charge.
The rider opens up the seating platform on top of the Honda U3-X and sits directly on top of it. Using Honda's incline sensor, the vehicle moves in any direction and speed. In essence the vehicle goes, turns and stops based completely on how you shift your weight.
Right now this device is just a concept, but Honda is planning to unveil it at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show 2009 on October 24, 2009 in Japan. After that time Honda is expected to continue to test the U3-X, although an official on-sale date is not known.