Honda has released details of a new personal mobility device dubbed the UNI-CUB. An evolution of the U3-X unicycle EV that has been shown globally since the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, the UNI-CUB employs the same impressive balance control technology and omni-directional wheel as its predecessor, with the biggest differences appearing to be the addition of an extra wheel, a comfier perch and optional user control via a mobile phone or tablet.

Like the U3-X, the UNI-CUB allows the user to move in any direction, control speed and stop by simply shifting their weight, while the second wheel moves laterally to accommodate turning. The device can also climb gradients, has a range of 6 km (3.7 miles) and, while it's not going to keep pace with power-walkers, can reach a top speed of 6 km/h (3.7 mph).

The compact form factor and the orientation of the rider also seems to give the UNI-CUB an advantage in the emerging field of "transport appliances." A Segway, for example, tends to clear the decks fairly quickly in a pedestrian space, but the UNI-CUB is designed as an unobtrusive addition to foot traffic that maintains eye-level height and works in harmony with other pedestrians.

Honda says it will begin demonstration testing of UNI-CUB with Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation from June with a view to exploring applications for the device.

UNI-CUB key specifications

  • Size (L x W x H): 520 x 345 x 745 mm (20.5 x 13.6 x 29.3 inches)
  • Seat height: 745 - 825 mm (29.3 - 32.5 inches)
  • Battery type: Lithium-ion battery
  • Maximum speed: 6 km/h (3.7 mph)
  • Range: 6 km (3.7 miles)

Source: Honda