Honda Motor Company today unveiled its new Uni-Cub personal mobility device, a computer-controlled electric unicycle that looks to be a production ready outgrowth of the U3-X first shown in 2009.
The compact EV with a saddle provides the same freedom of movement in all directions that a person has while walking. Since it doesn’t replace body parts, Uni-Cub is not technically a prosthetic device, but will have widespread applications in manufacturing or warehousing and any other indoor occupation that requires extensive walking.
Uni-Cub has Honda’s proprietary “balance control technology” and what’s said to be the world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system. The advanced technologies allow the rider to control speed, move in any direction, turn and stop, all by shifting his or her weight. Since the rider can freely move forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally, he or she can quickly maneuver among other people.
The saddle-style packaging makes it easy for the rider’s legs to reach the ground and it maintains eye-level height with other pedestrians.
Starting in June 2012, Honda will jointly conduct demonstration testing of Uni-Cub with Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. In addition to testing the feasibility of using Uni-Cub indoors, this project will explore the practical applications of the device in a wide range of environments in Japan and other countries.
The balance control technology of Uni-Cub is part of the Honda Robotics family of technologies, which originates with Honda’s research into humanoid robots, including the world-famous ASIMO.
Honda has been conducting robotics research since 1986, and into walking assist devices about a decade later. As with all these vehicles (?), Uni-Cub is under development at its Fundamental Technology Research Center in Wako, Saitama, Japan.