The future is near and it looks fat and lethargic, thanks to Honda’s latest people mover called the UNI-CUB. Honda refers to the UNI-CUB as a “personal mobility device, designed for harmony with people,” though I think the machine is just another vehicle to transport us to a lazier future, very similar to that of WALL-E.

The UNI-CUB “offers the same freedom of movement in all directions that a person enjoys while walking,” thanks to its omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System), which is a world’s first in the Segway-oriented market. This system works via two compact front wheels and a lateral rear wheel that enables pivoting and tight cornering.

In order to stay perched upon your platform of sloth, the UNI-CUB will employ the same kind of balance control technology found in Honda’s ASIMO robot. The technology works by assessing the rider’s environment and counterbalancing based on the rider’s movement. The system will even allow riders to hold hands together on UNI-CUBs, all the way through Burger King drive-thrus.

The UNI-CUB is designed to have the rider perched at eye level with the average pedestrian, and its saddle will make the rider about the same width as a walking person. The UNI-CUB can also be controlled via a smartphone as a remote control for hill climbing, etc., but why bring on the strenuous workout of holding a phone in your hand when you can just let your arms flop to the sides like walrus flippers?

The Honda UNI-CUB will be tested in June in order to see which environments and countries the leg replacement machine will suit.


Honda Announces New UNI-CUB Personal Mobility Device Designed for Harmony With People

Joint demonstration testing to begin in June

TOKYO, Japan, May 15, 2012 – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled the new UNI-CUB personal mobility device, designed for harmony with people. Featuring a compact design and comfortable saddle, UNI-CUB offers the same freedom of movement in all directions that a person enjoys while walking.

Representing the evolution of the U3-X personal mobility device that Honda announced in 2009, UNI-CUB features Honda’s proprietary balance control technology and the world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System). These technologies allow the rider to control speed, move in any direction, turn and stop, all simply by shifting his or her weight. Since the rider can freely move forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally, he or she can quickly and easily maneuver among other people.

Moreover, UNI-CUB’s compact saddle-style packaging makes it easy for the rider’s legs to reach the ground and maintains eye-level height with other pedestrians. This configuration promotes harmony between the rider and others, letting the rider travel freely and comfortably inside facilities and among moving people.

Starting in June 2012, Honda will jointly conduct demonstration testing of UNI-CUB with Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. In addition to testing the feasibility of using UNI-CUB indoors, this project will explore the practical applications of the device in a wide range of environments in Japan and other countries.

The balance control technology of UNI-CUB is part of the Honda Robotics family of technologies, which originates with Honda’s research into humanoid robots, including the world-famous ASIMO.

Going forward, Honda will continue its proactive research and development of next-generation mobility technologies, aiming always to offer more and more people the joy and fun that comes from freedom of movement.

Key specifications of UNI-CUB

Size (L x W x H) 520 x 345 x 745 mm
Seat height 745 – 825 mm
Battery type Lithium-ion battery
Maximum speed 6 km/h
Range 6 km
Application environment Barrier-free indoor environments

•Key features of UNI-CUB

<Maneuverability promotes compatibility with people in many environments>

  1. Omni-directional freedom of movement similar to human walking
    UNI-CUB has a two-wheel configuration with a minimal wheelbase. The front wheel features the Honda Omni Traction Drive System that Honda first announced in 2009. The rear wheel moves laterally to facilitate turning. By leveraging the different rotational speeds of the front and rear wheel treads during lateral movements, UNI-CUB can move forwards and backwards, side-to-side and diagonally and also turn in place, making possible quick, nimble movement.
  1. Movement in harmony with other people
    Honda’s proprietary balance control technology makes it possible for the rider to freely control the wheels of the UNI-CUB, much as human beings maintain their balance. With a design that takes into consideration the rider’s environment, this system allows the rider to maneuver while moving side by side with or holding hands with another person.
  1. Compact size for moving and climbing gradients in barrier-free indoor environments
    Thanks to UNI-CUB’s compact saddle-style packaging, the rider and vehicle together are about the same width as a person when walking. Optimized wheel design and high-precision drive/balance control enhance UNI-CUB’s ability to climb gradients in barrier-free indoor environments.

  1. Weight shift control combined with touch panel control
    When the rider is using weight shift control, UNI-CUB’s incline sensor detects the direction in which the rider is leaning, allowing UNI-CUB to calculate the direction and speed intended by the rider. And touch panel control via smartphone and other devices is another convenient control option.