But now, something new has been developed by the Honda Motor Company that may revolutionize the way we get around even further.
And that device is known as the Honda U3-X Personal Mobility Device that looks more like a figure 8 on wheels – a unicycle that drives sideways.
The device, which only weighs around 10 kilograms – (about 20 pounds) and can be carried on a bus, train, or other mass commuter vehicle, was recently demonstrated to an amazed audience of people walking through NY City’s Time Square, one of the most busy pedestrian locations in the world.
Compared to a Segway, a two wheeled, expensive mobility device which is still a rarity in the Middle East (and seems to be a dying fad any way, but used at the port of Tel Aviv for tourism), Honda’s answer to getting around in busy, people congested locations not only moves forward and backwards, but sideways as well, due to a specially designed wheel that includes a series of smaller wheels that allow the device to move from side to side.
The Honda gizmo is not a long range transportation vehicle; but neither is the Segway.
Yet it still may be a very viable solution for use in places where one needs to get around quickly, Engadget reports (see their test run), without having to expend energy by walking. The U3-X, still not available for purchase, would be perfect in shopping malls, on large college campuses, and in crowded urban locations like New York City, or even central Cairo or Tel Aviv. Power is supplied by lithium ion batteries, the same as used in electric cars like Better Place, and General Motors’s new Volt electric car.
One full charge allows the device to propel one along for up to an hour.
See the video:
The unique wheel design of the U3-X, is actually a series of smaller wheels that rotate independently, allowing it to keep a person balanced. Maintaining balance has always been a problem for riding a one wheeled unicycle or even a two wheeled device for many people.
This concept will allow people to use it who have balancing problems, and may also be good for handicapped people as well; even possibly eliminating the need for a wheel chair for some handicapped people. The device may have other uses too, since it allows people to have both hands free to do other things, including waiting on tables in a large restaurant.
Before you think about going out and buying one, however, Honda says that the U3-X is still considered to be an experimental device; although the company displayed it at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, at which a number of electric powered vehicles were exhibited.
Another thing to consider is that this kind of device is not meant to be a substitute for walking, lest we wind up like humans in the 1969 song classic: “In the Year 2525” whose lyrics included: “your legs’ got nothing to do – some machine is doing it for you.”
Maybe walking, from both an environmental and health standpoint, isn’t such a bad way to get around after all. We’d love to see this new Honda unicycle come for a test run in the Middle East.
More articles on electric powered mobility devices: