The Honda U3-X allows its owner to sit on a unicycle-like gadget that balances itself, and moves in the direction its rider leans.
The U3-X has emerged from Honda’s research into walking assisting technologies, which began in 1999. The best known product to emerge from the laboratory is the ASIMO robot, which learns extensively from a human’s ability to maintain balance while walking.
Honda’s balance and control technology, which allows ASIMO to stand, walk and even run, has been developed even further in the U3-X. The cycle senses shifts in the rider’s body, and adjusts its direction and speed accordingly, just as a human does while walking.
The wheel is more than just a wheel. It is made up of one large motorised wheel, with several small motorised wheels around its circumference that allow the contraption to move forward, back, sideways and diagonally. The U3-X weighs less than 10 kilos and is powered by a lithium-ion battery.
The technology in ASIMO and the U3-X could be used in personal transport, but is most likely to first find its way into motorbikes, which would self-correct themselves rather than flip if a rider lost control.