First unveiled at the Tokyo Motor show in 2009 and independently described as the ‘segway of unicycles’ the U3-X is a self-balancing one-wheeled electric vehicle inspired by robotic technologies developed for ASIMO Honda’s humanoid robot and represents an entirely new form of mobility. It was also nominated as one of the 50 best inventions of 2009 by a leading consumer magazine.
Inspired by ASIMO’s ability to find its own balance point, U3-X can stand upright by controlling its centre of gravity. A mono-wheel traction structure, Honda’s Omni Traction (HOT) Drive System, enables the U3-X to move freely and smoothly in all directions. The regular large wheel is actually made up of several small wheels in a series, which can rotate independently, meaning that the device can go forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally, all being controlled with a simple lean of the rider’s upper body.
Weighing just under 22 lbs and with a seat and footrests that fold into the device for extra portability, the U3-X was designed by Honda to aid mobility and be used completely intuitively by people in settings such as in museums, airports or shopping centres.
Since its initial unveiling in 2009 in Tokyo, Honda has held further demonstrations of this futuristic and innovative device in Times Square New York and at Honda’s inspirational ‘Collection Hall’ in Tochigi, Japan. Now coming to Europe, the exhibition “Getting Around” will demonstrate to visitors how living-spaces have been developed and structured to enable people to easily move around, using all the diverse modes of transportation that have been invented in the past 150 years. The U3-X concept of personal mobility captured the attention of the exhibition organisers and will be exhibited in the sequence “Man in Motion”, which will show how humans always carry with them the tools for their autonomy.
It has not been confirmed whether U3-X will be offered for consumer sale, but provides an interesting insight into the diversity of Honda’s technological advancements to aid personal mobility in the future.