|The U3-X. The two seat pads and the foot rests fold into the body of the device when not in use. Click to enlarge.|
Honda has unveiled the U3-X, a compact Li-ion-powered experimental personal mobility device that fits between the rider’s legs and provides free movement in all directions just as in human walking: forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonally. Honda will continue research and development of the device including experiments in a real-world environment to verify the practicality of the device.
This new personal mobility device makes it possible to adjust speed and move, turn and stop in all directions when the rider leans the upper body to shift body weight. This was achieved through application of technologies including Honda’s balance control technology, which was developed through the robotics research of ASIMO, Honda’s bipedal humanoid robot, and the first—based on Honda’s assessment—omni-directional driving wheel system.
|Image of HOT Drive System. Click to enlarge.|
The Honda Omni Traction Drive System, or HOT Drive System, enables movement in all directions, including not only forward and backward, but also directly to the right and left and diagonally. In addition, this compact size and one-wheel-drive personal mobility device was designed to be friendly to the user and people around it by making it easier for the rider to reach the ground from the footrest and placing the rider on roughly the same eye level as other people or pedestrians.
Honda is planning to showcase the U3-X at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show 2009 which will begin on 24 October 2009 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.
Honda has been conducting robotics research since 1986, including ASIMO, walking assist devices and U3-X, at the Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Fundamental Technology Research Center in Wako, Saitama, Japan.
Key features of U3-X include:
Device control featuring application of balance control technology cultivated through ASIMO research. The incline sensor detects the incline of the device based on the weight shift of the rider and determines the rider’s intention in terms of the direction and speed. Based on the data, precise control is applied to return the device to an upright position, which achieves smooth and agile movements and simple operation by weight shift only.
HOT Drive System (Omni-directional driving wheel system). A wheel structure which enables movement in all directions including forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally. Multiple small-diameter motor-controlled wheels were 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. By combining these movements the device moves diagonally.
Compact and innovative package. The combination of the balance control technology and the HOT Drive System enabled the one-wheel style compact and innovative package of the device. In addition, the device adopts a light-weight monocoque body in which the foldable seat, footrests and body cover that also function as the frame are stored in the body of the device, achieving highly portable convenience.
The experimental model is 315 mm x 160 mm x 650 mm (L x W x H), and weighs less than 10 kg. Operational time with a fully-charged :Li-ion battery is 1 hour.