What's on your Christmas list this year? 2009 has seen another bumper crop of innovative products designed to make our lives more efficient, more rewarding or simply more fun. If you've got some last minute shopping to do, and you hurry, this might just help - it's Gizmag's pick of the top 10 tech gadgets of 2009.
The fact that the streets aren’t exactly swarming with Segways
seven years after they went on sale hasn’t stopped some major players taking tentative steps (or wheels) into the personal mobility arena with their own device prototypes. As we’ve seen previously Toyota is working on the Winglet
, while Honda recently displayed its U3-X experimental vehicle
at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show
. Now Nissan is getting in on the act with its own prototype developed in partnership with Japan’s National Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (AIST).
A self-balancing unicycle experimental vehicle from Honda to be shown at the Tokyo Motor Show
next month might just be history in the making. Weighing less than 10kg, the 24 by 12 by 6-inch U3-X experimental vehicle runs for an hour, is small enough to be carried onto an airplane as hand luggage, has a wheel which spins in two planes and is set to challenge, perhaps even change, society’s concept of personal mobility.
The eniCycle is the latest entry in the increasingly crowded self-stabilizing electric unicycle market. Developed by Slovenian inventor Aleksander Polutnik, the eniCycle has Segway-like balancing capabilities but only a single wheel. With its three-hour battery and lean-to-go controls, this diminutive one-wheeler prototype brings Jetsons-type technology one step closer to reality.
Dean Kamen – the multimillionaire inventor behind the Segway
personal transporter – is well down the road in the development of a new bike that combines electric power and a radical generator which will allow it to burn almost any fuel. Although the majority of the work that goes on in Kamen's product development company, Deka, is shrouded in mystery, as it includes significant projects for the US military, details are emerging about Kamen's new two-wheeler, which is part of a project that also includes a car designed around the same technology.
Straight out of left field, General Motors
and personal mobility pioneer Segway
have revealed a two-wheel, two-seater prototype vehicle they’ve code named Project P.U.M.A (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). The self-balancing electric “car” is designed to transport two adults in a seated position at speeds of up to 35 mph and can travel up to 25 and 35 miles (40 - 56 km) powered by large format lithium-ion batteries on as little as $0.60 worth of electricity. The control system is based on the original Segway with dynamic balancing and drive-by-wire for acceleration, steering, and braking. It also features vehicle-to-vehicle communications, digital smart energy management and a dockable user interface that allows off-board connectivity.
is an non-pneumatic Tire/WhEEL combo which offers an idiot-proof, no-maintenance, easily-retreadable tire for consumers and the holy grail for the military - a tire that can't be “shot out.” You won't see the Tweel on your sandmobile any time soon because it has noise, vibration, heat and wear problems at highway speeds, but its unique construction enables it to be specifically engineered with ideal characteristics for highly specialized low speed applications. The ultimate badge of credibility was bestowed on the design when it rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on NASA’s Small Pressurized Lunar Rover prototype during the Obama presidential inauguration.
" slipped into the lexicon as the commonly used term for a self-balancing ride-on robot soon after the launch of Dean Kamen's famous invention in 2001. The Segway is certainly a unique way to get around and to the casual observer, the way the device operates might seem to defy gravity. There are quite a few DIY projects around the Internet including standard two-wheeled upright versions, unicycles and one wheeled skate boards that operate on the same self-balancing principle. Now a kind soul named Geoffrey Bennett has released an open source version of the firmware required to operate a ride on robot free, allowing anyone with basic mechanical ability and some electronics skills to build their very own self-balancing transport.
May 27, 2008 A design that is best described as a two-wheeled unicycle, the UnoMoto takes a Yamaha R1 frame, side-by-side wheels and Segway-like gyroscopic technology and wraps it in a custom made body to create a very different kind of electric commuter vehicle. Though perhaps not as slick in the design stakes, the UnoMoto prototype is reminiscent of the radical Bombadier EMBRIO Concept
but with even simpler controls. Except for an on/off switch all control is achieved through simply leaning: forward to accelerate, back to brake, and sideways to make a turn. Young Canadian design engineer Ben Gulak deserves our applause on at least three counts: it's compact, its green and it's thoroughly unconventional.