“It has a top speed of 6 km/h, it balances itself, and you couldn’t crash it if you tried. How can you possibly see that as one of the biggest thrills of your life?” That was the response from an automotive journalist colleague at the Tokyo Motor Show after I eulogized riding Honda’s UNI-CUB β personal mobility device. After a lifetime of journalism covering every form of technology, cars, motorcycles and "boys toys,” from driving and riding exotica worth a decade's wages, this was one the greatest thrills I had experienced – being one of the first to ride a landmark personal transportation device as important as Henry Ford’s Model T.
Honda has announced that yet another version of the UNI-CUB personal mobility device
will be shown at next week's Tokyo Motor Show. The UNI-CUB β is smaller, lighter, lower and can be used as a seat, making it a potential alternative to the office chair.
With big changes likely in the global transport infrastructure, the race is on to create the missing link – the smallest, lightest man-packable form of motorized transport yet known. Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW and Nissan have all shown vehicles in this area, but none have yet hit the market. The best-of-breed is currently the Yikebike
and it announced today that it has further extended its lead, lightening its US$4,000 Carbon
model from 11.5 kg to 11.2 kg and extending its range to 15 km (9.3 miles). There's also now a choice of Yikebikes with two cheaper versions at 12.7 kg ($3,000) and 14 kg ($2000).
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.