Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/24/honda_u3x/

Honda develops motorised unicycle

With dual bum cheeks...

By James Sherwood

Posted in Hardware, 24th September 2009 14:41 GMT

Honda has created a high-tech unicycle, which the firm’s claimed boasts the world’s first drive system with 360° movement.

U3-X_02

Honda's U3-X: More than a unicycle and motor?

The U3-X, described by Honda as an experimental personal mobility service, apparently fits – or should that be ‘sits’? - comfortably between the rider’s legs to provide 360° motorised movement.

To adjust the U3-X’s speed or direction, all the user has to do is shift their upper bodyweight – a movement style that sounds somewhat like wearing a Hoola Hoop around your waist.

A collection of small-diameter motorised wheels connected in-line to form a single large-diameter wheel allow the U3-X to make 360° movements, Honda said.

The small wheels control side-to-side movements, while the large wheel controls forward and back motions. A combination of both allows the U3-X to move diagonally, Honda added.

U3-X

Sway left to move left, sway right to...you get the idea

Perhaps the second-generation U3-X will feature a third set of wheels – and some powerful thrusters – to enable vertical movements?

Many of the U3-X’s capabilities are based on technologies used inside everyone’s favourite orchestra-conducting, stair-walking and thought-controlled android – Honda’s Asimo.

When atop the 315 x 160 x 650mm U3-X, the rider is apparently at “roughly” the same eye level as pedestrians. The seat, footrests and body cover all fold away into the device’s 10kg body, Honda mentioned.

The U3-X is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which is good for 60 minutes worth of travel - Honda claimed.

Honda_robots_01

Honda used tech from Asimo (far right) to build the U3-X

Honda hasn’t announced any plans to produce the U3-X on a commercial scale, but admitted that it’s currently testing the device in “real-world situations” to “confirm the practicality of the technology”. Read into that what you will. ®