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22 May 2012

Honda’s personal mobility device gets an upgrade (w/ video)

Words by Jade Lu | Photos and video courtesy of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. 
Back in 2009, Honda unveiled the U3-X, their brand new personal mobility device with the goal of “coexisting in harmony with people” and some of you may have seen it in action at the 2010 Manila International Auto Show. It was more or less a battery-powered omni-directional unicycle. Nonetheless, it was an example of just how far Honda’s technologies have reached.
Fast forward a few years: The U3-X gets an update. Now dubbed as the UNI-CUB, Honda’s personal mobility device gets a supporting rear wheel and now has actual seats instead of foldable flaps for your… cheeks.
The UNI-CUB stands at 745mm tall, with the seats adjustable up to 825mm high from the floor, and is powered by Lithium-ion batteries. It has a maximum speed of 6 km/h, which is close to the average pedestrian walking speed. It also still features Honda’s Omni Traction Drive System, the first omni-directional driving wheel system, so the rider can control the speed and direction of the UNI-CUB by simple shifting their weight.
The UNI-CUB is packaged to give its rider freedom of movement in barrier-free indoor environments. Basically, it is designed to make its rider simulate standing and walking while they’re sitting. Now, it might not make sense to a lot of us, especially those leading more active lifestyles, but mobility devices aren’t quite all that these gadgets stand for.
Coming from saddle seats and radio controls, the U3-X and UNI-CUB have come a long way in terms of technology and design. These personal mobility devices are merely a branch of Honda’s robotics research, which started way back in 1986. After 26 years, Honda has successfully redesigned the wheel from simply rolling back and forth and following a turning radius to make circles to an omni-directional machine capable of moving in any direction by shifting one’s weight.
We’re pretty excited to see what Honda comes up with next.