updated 09:40 am EDT, Fri September 25, 2009
Honda's U3-X allows for sideways movement
Honda this week introduced a unique personal mobility device, the U3-X. The device enables the rider to travel in all directions -- touted as a world-first -- with a balancing system that was developed during the human-like ASIMO robot. The ball-like wheel also allows for direct sideways motion, or diagonal movement. Honda calls this its Honda Omni Traction Drive System, or HOT Drive System for short.
Pains were also taken during the U3-X's design to ensure riders' feet are at a comfortable level from the ground, while they sit at roughly the eye level of pedestrians instead of the low level of wheelchairs. Unlike Honda's walking assist device, which amplifies a user's leg movement, the U3-X is similar in operation to the Segway, as it reads a rider's weight shift to determine the desired direction and speed of travel.
The U3-X uses small, motor-controlled wheels connected in-line to create a single large wheel. Movement of the large wheel only allows for forward and backward motion, while the smaller wheels allow for sideways movement, or strafing. Moving both wheel sizes results in the U3-X moving diagonally. The U3-X weighs less than 22lbs, while its lithium ion battery is said to provide 1 hour of operation.
Honda will demonstrate the U3-X at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show 2009 scheduled for October 24th.