Honda & the Joy of Riding (No, Not Motorcycles)

While U.S. vehicle manufacturers are all concentrating with the zeal of students taking their SATs with hopes of Harvard on getting the right mix of cars and trucks, researchers at Honda are still focused on “the joy and fun of mobility.” And this has given rise to the experimental Honda U3-X, which is described as a “personal mobility device.” You might call it a “unicycle.”   The driver (?) sits on it, and can move back and forth, side to side, and even diagonally.

While U.S. vehicle manufacturers are all concentrating with the zeal of students taking their SATs with hopes of Harvard on getting the right mix of cars and trucks, researchers at Honda are still focused on “the joy and fun of mobility.”

And this has given rise to the experimental Honda U3-X, which is described as a “personal mobility device.” You might call it a “unicycle.”

 

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The driver (?) sits on it, and can move back and forth, side to side, and even diagonally. Direction and speed is based on the rider (?) shifting her weight.

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The clever part of all this is based on two things: the balance control technology that was developed for ASIMO, the bipedal humanoid robot that Honda developed for reasons still not entirely clear, and the “HOT Drive System”: the Honda Omni Traction Drive System, which allows the range of movements. The HOT system consists of multiple small-diameter motor-controlled wheels that are connected in line to form one large-diameter wheel. So, to move fore and aft, the large wheel turns. To move side to side, the smaller-diameter wheels are activated. And to move diagonally, there is a combination of the two.

 

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Concerned about falling over? This is prevented via controllers that take information from an incline sensor that makes adjustments to keep the U3-X upright.

The battery-powered U3-X runs on a lithium-ion battery that has enough charge to allow operation for one hour—although there is no 0 to 60 time indicated, and as you may know, driving (?) fast in (on?) electric vehicles depletes the charge faster than more judicious motion.