Honda is literally reinventing the wheel with its new concept, the U3-X Personal Mobility Concept, an experimental personal mobility device that provides 360 degree movement. The concept relies on technologies derived while working on the ASIMO humanoid robot, which I’ve mentioned before.
When walking, we perform forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonal movements, the latter of which are difficult to achieve with a standard wheel, but Honda’s latest experimental technology, the U3-X, is also capable of this. The rider can adjust speed and direction of the device, move, turn and stop in all directions simply by shifting their upper bodyweight.
Honda has drawn upon advanced technologies used in the humanoid robot, ASIMO and benefits from the extensive study of human balance.
Honda’s balance control technology enables ASIMO to stand, walk and run in a controlled manner. This technology has been developed for the U3-X – to detect a shift in the rider’s bodyweight to adjust the direction and speed of the device. Based on the incline sensor data, precise control is applied to return the device to an upright position, which achieves smooth and agile movements and simple operation using weight shift only.
The U3-X also uses technologies from Honda’s omni-directional driving wheel system (HOT Drive System) which enables movement in all directions, including right and left and diagonal, thanks to many small, motor-controlled wheels that are connected in-line to form one large-diameter wheel.
By moving the large-diameter wheel, the device moves forward and backward, and by moving small-diameter wheels, the device moves side-to-side. Combining these movements means the device moves diagonally too.
The U3-X’s design focuses on the user as well as the other people around it. User-friendliness was key, so the reach from the device footrest to the ground is small, and the device places the rider at roughly the same eye level as other pedestrians.