Date:1 June 2012
A novel look at personal mobility draws inspiration from the arcane field of well-balanced robots.
OK, so the Segway didn’t necessarily transform mobility to quite the extent that all the hype beforehand would have had us believe. Still, the concept has endured and even been extended so that the two-wheeled device’s users today range from golfers to tourists and metro cops. But Honda’s U3-X Personal Mobility Concept is a significant departure: it uses a single wheel and, presumably, entails considerably more complexity.
The U3-X was launched – appropriately enough – during a Paris exhibition titled Getting Around: City, Mobility and Architecture.
It was developed by the company’s fundamental Research and Development Centre, and inspired by its robot ASIMO’s ability to find its own balance point: the U3-X can stand upright by controlling its centre of gravity. A monowheel traction structure, Honda’s Omni Traction Drive System, enables the U3-X to move freely and smoothly in all directions. As with the Segway, leaning your upper body to shift your weight controls the direction of travel. The device was designed to be used completely intuitively by people in settings such as museums, airports or shopping centres.
Honda says the U3-X represents an entirely new form of mobility that demonstrates a step towards a perfect fusion between man and machine. We don’t know if we should be worried…