Toyota isn’t the only Japanese automaker to amaze us with some funky forms of personal transportation. Honda unwrapped its U3-X transporter yesterday, which can best be described as a motorized unicycle.
A key component to the U3-X is Honda’s Omni Traction (HOT) drive technology. The large wheel you see at the bottom of the cycle is actually made of multiple wheels of varying diameter. The larger wheels allow the U3-X to move fore and aft. Simultaneously rotating the smaller wheels allows the U3-X to steer. Like a Segway, the unicycle is self-balancing; Honda engineers developed the system based upon technologies developed for the company’s ASIMO robot program.
Although the U3-X seems to be meant for indoor use only, it weighs only 20 pounds and folds into a portable shape for transit. Power comes from a lithium-ion battery pack which, when fully charged, offers approximately an hour’s worth of use.
We’re not exactly sure whom Honda is targeting with this contraption (the company says it’s “pursuing the concept of harmony with people”), but it will showcase the U3-X at the 2009 Tokyo motor show.
If you’d like to see Honda’s U3-X in action, click here to check out a short video demonstration.