It’s like a bar stool on wheels…well, one wheel. There’s really no good way to describe Honda’s U3-X personal mobility device, so you’ll just have to go see it for yourself. Honda brought their answer to the Segway to New York’s Time Square last week. Now, the U3-X will be on display (April 13th-15th) at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress in Detroit. The motorized scooter weighs only 22 lbs (10kg) and comes with a carrying handle. To drive, you simply fold out the seat, sit down, and lean in the direction you want to go. It’s pretty cool to watch in action. Check out the video from IEEE Spectrum to see the U3-X attract a crowd in Times Square.
When I first reviewed the U3-X I was pretty critical, and I still am. The battery life is only 1 hour, and it doesn’t travel particularly fast. I’m not sure how or when someone would want to use it in a professional setting (can you imagine an office full of these things?) Watching more videos of the U3-X zip around, however, I’m starting to see the glimmer of appeal. This thing looks fun. Really fun. And that’s nothing to laugh at. Maybe we’ll see some specialized sports or activities spring up around these things. Imagine playing a modified version of soccer on these things. Or polo. Segway is staying alive by diversifying its applications and targeting special interests. If the U3-X wants to survive on its own it will likely have to do the same.
The bigger story here, of course, is that the U3-X is adapting technology from the ASIMO robot, and may continue to inspire other adaptations. The omni-direction wheel looks pretty slick, maybe we’ll see that applied into cool new projects. In the meantime, if you live in Detroit go ride the U3-X and let us know if you like it. And maybe you can come up with a better description for it…
…like the baby of a tank and a unicycle?
[screen capture and video credit: Erico Guizzo, IEEE Spectrum]
[source: Honda Press Release]