If you happen to be around New York City in the next few days or in Detroit for the SAE World Congress next week, you can check out the Honda's fascinating U3-X in person. The U3-X is personal mobility unicycle that can stabilize itself and propel itself in any direction simply by the rider shifting their weight a bit. Right now, its practical applications are very limited, but there is some pretty cool technology inside, especially the wheel mechanism dubbed Honda Omni Traction (HOT).
We had a chance to try out the U3-X and learn more about it last fall when we visited the Honda R&D center after the Tokyo Motor Show. The U3-X will be at the Marriott Marquis Hotel until March 8 and then in Detroit from April 13 to 15.
First U.S. Demonstration of Honda U3-X Personal Mobility Prototype in New York
Experimental device to be demonstrated for U.S. media in New York and at the 2010 SAE World Congress in Detroit
04/06/2010 - NEW YORK -
Honda today held the first U.S. demonstration of the company's U3-X personal mobility prototype, first introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in October of last year. The three-day debut event will run through April 8 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. A second demonstration will be held April 13-15, at the 2010 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress in Detroit, Michigan.
With U3-X Honda rethinks the concept of personal mobility, providing the rider with freedom of movement in any direction - forward, backward, sideways and diagonally - by simply leaning slightly in the desired direction. The lightweight and compact one-wheeled device also features a foldable seat and retractable footrests. A lithium-ion battery pack provides power for up to one-hour of use and can be recharged by plugging in to a conventional household or office 120-volt power outlet.
Weighing roughly 22 pounds, U3-X uses an advanced Honda proprietary balance-control system which derives from its research into human walking dynamics for the development of the ASIMO bi-pedal humanoid robot. To realize full freedom of movement in all directions, the U3-X also employs the world's first omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System) which utilizes a series of concentrically mounted wheels - a larger, forward and backward moving inner wheel and a series of smaller sideways moving outer wheels. Diagonal motion is achieved when both forward and sideways moving wheels operate in tandem.
In addition, the compact size and one-wheel-drive design of U3-X was intended to provide user-friendly and pedestrian-friendly operation with low-mounted foot pedals that make it easy for the rider to reach the ground, and a seat height that places the rider at approximately the same eye-level as other people.
As a company that values mobility, Honda began research into robotics in 1986 and walking devices in 1999, culminating in the development of ASIMO, the world's most advanced bi-pedal humanoid robot. The cumulative study of human walking and balance control has also led to the development of numerous other experimental technologies including the U3-X personal mobility device as well as Honda's Stride Management Assist and Bodyweight Support Assist walking assist devices -- all geared toward further advancing human mobility through technological innovation.