News Honda: U3-X Personal Mobility Prototype

Honda: U3-X Personal Mobility Prototype

First U.S. Demonstration 

Honda held the first U.S. demonstration of the company’s U3-X personal mobility prototype, first introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in October of last year. The three-day debut event will run through April 8 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. A second demonstration will be held April 13-15, at the 2010 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress in Detroit, Michigan

With U3-X Honda rethinks the concept of personal mobility, providing the rider with freedom of movement in any direction – forward, backward, sideways and diagonally – by simply leaning slightly in the desired direction. The lightweight and compact one-wheeled device also features a foldable seat and retractable footrests. A lithium-ion battery pack provides power for up to one-hour of use and can be recharged by plugging in to a conventional household or office 120-volt power outlet.

Weighing roughly 22 pounds, U3-X uses an advanced Honda proprietary balance-control system which derives from its research into human walking dynamics for the development of the ASIMO bi-pedal humanoid robot. To realize full freedom of movement in all directions, the U3-X also employs the world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System) which utilizes a series of concentrically mounted wheels – a larger, forward and backward moving inner wheel and a series of smaller sideways moving outer wheels. Diagonal motion is achieved when both forward and sideways moving wheels operate in tandem.

In addition, the compact size and one-wheel-drive design of U3-X was intended to provide user-friendly and pedestrian-friendly operation with low-mounted foot pedals that make it easy for the rider to reach the ground, and a seat height that places the rider at approximately the same eye-level as other people.

As a company that values mobility, Honda began research into robotics in 1986 and walking devices in 1999, culminating in the development of ASIMO, the world’s most advanced bi-pedal humanoid robot. The cumulative study of human walking and balance control has also led to the development of numerous other experimental technologies including the U3-X personal mobility device as well as Honda’s Stride Management Assist and Bodyweight Support Assist walking assist devices — all geared toward further advancing human mobility through technological innovation.


Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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