Earlier this month Honda released a prototype concept of a unique personal mobility vehicle and offered the first U.S. demonstration. The rider sits and uses natural body movements and balance for use indoors. With the world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system at its core, this twenty pound unit moves in whatever direction the driver leans into, including sideways. Battery-powered, the U3-X may never make it to market, but the internet is alive with commentary and opinion. See video below.
Segway, once thought to be the future of urban transportation, finds its customer base primarily with municipalities, particularly in law enforcement. Airports, malls and other sprawling complexes offer the perfect environment for Segway use. Read about Segway for people with disabilities. Visit a Segway dealer serving greater metro Denver and Colorado.
Honda demonstrates U3-X personal mobility vehicle incorporated into daily life by abled-bodied people – at the office, at a museum or shopping. Primarily intended for use indoors, its small profile and weight would make it more practical than Segway for taking in the car or on trips. Conversely, without the heft of Segway, the U3-X would not perform well on city streets, for example.
The unit requires the rider to have enough lower-body strength and balance to control the vehicle, although its applications for people with disabilities could be widespread.
The prototype uses Honda’s proprietary balance-control system based on its research for the development of the bi-pedal humanoid robot dubbed ASIMO. Honda expands its branding through this research into human walking dynamics, an added focus for over a decade, and says of itself now that Honda is in the business of “human mobility.” Among Honda’s other prototypes under review and consideration for the marketplace, are two Walking Assist devices, introduced in 2009. One (pictured above) manages stride, especially helpful for elders and others with conditions that weaken muscles. The other features a bodyweight support system that makes the device functional for activities that require extensive standing or repetitive lower body tasks, such as walking, stooping, or climbing.
Honda's human mobility products are not yet on the market. A sampling of local metro Denver Honda dealers found that none have the prototypes on display for review or testing at this time.
Kathryn also writes as Denver Disability Examiner and Denver Senior Care Examiner. Contact for inquiries and to suggest future topics. Select "subscribe" to receive Kathryn's articles on a regular basis.