Thursday, October 22, 2009

You've gotta love a car company that's thinking green and comes up with stuff like this


This is the Honda U3-X, an experimental new "personal mobility device" being unveiling at the Tokyo Auto Show -- the Segway reinvented as a small unicycle. It weighs about 20 pounds and comes with an hour of battery life in its rechargable lithium-ion battery. The single wheel is made up of concentric smaller wheels that can turn at different computer-controlled speeds, taking their direction from the direction the rider is leaning. The balance control that operates the U3-X came out of Honda's robotics lab. It's derived from the technology that enables Honda's Asimo robot to keep its balance as it walks (and conducts the Detroit Symphony performing "The Impossible Dream"). Cool.

So where is Honda going with this? The concept prototype U3-X seems designed for indoor use only, but the the idea looks as if it could be scaled up for outdoor use in crowded urban areas. It looks like the kind of out-of-the-box thinking needed by a world that's looking for alternatives to the automobile. For it's part, Honda says it's "pursuing the concept of harmony with people." Not sure what that means, but harmony is good.

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