(Relaxnews) – Honda has revealed what looks like a near-production version of its sophisticated personal mobility solution.
The UNI-CUB can best be described as a one-wheeled scooter, allowing the rider to sit down and remain on the device as it balances itself while moving.
Billed as allowing the ‘same freedom of movement in all directions that a person enjoys while walking’, the device is approximately 0.7 meters high and has evolved considerably from the bare-bones prototype U3-X first unveiled in 2009.
It now boasts a rather comfortable-looking padded seat, for instance, along with a rear stabilizer and an adjustable height, making it more suitable for use by the general public.
The basic method of operation, however, appears to be the same — users sit on the seat and lift their feet, after which a sophisticated gyroscopic system keeps the UNI-CUB upright.
As the user leans gently in one direction, the UNI-CUB senses the shift in weight and moves along the floor, in a similar way to the popular Segway scooters.
The maximum speed is 6 km/h, with a range of 6 km, Honda says.
The balance control technology was originally developed by the firm’s robotics division, tackling the thorny problem of how to keep robots such as ASIMO upright when moving around.
Recent technological advances have made the accidents which dogged previous ASIMO appearances, such as falling over on stairs, a thing of the past — last year, Honda showed new video of the humanoid hopping on one leg in different directions.
Advances like that are making personal mobility devices such as the UNI-CUB seem more and more inevitable, although the model won’t go on sale just yet.
Honda says that it will be tested by Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation from next month in a project to explore the practical applications of the device.