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Honda Uni-Cub personal mobility device one-ups Segways for indoor use

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Honda developed a new personal mobility device to assist people in traveling during their daily lives.

Honda Uni-Cub press
Honda Uni-Cub press

There are plenty of reasons why the Segway didn't revolutionize personal transport, but Honda thinks it has solved at least a couple of those problems with its new Uni-Cub "personal mobility device." The first thing you'll notice about the unicycle-like vehicle is that it's significantly smaller than the Segway, meaning it should be feasible to use the Uni-Cub indoors. The size savings have another benefit: when perched atop the device's saddle you're at about eye-level with your boring, biped human counterparts, instead of far above them. This is all clearly geared towards indoor use, and that's what Honda's aiming for with the project; the company imagines the units being deployed in places like offices, museums, and schools.

We haven't been told how much the Uni-Cub weighs, but we assume that it can't be light considering the large lithium-ion battery pack that powers the unit and the modest 6km/h (about 3.72mph) top speed. The "unicycle" actually has two wheels and uses Honda's Omni Traction Drive System, which was first shown off in 2009 on a similar mobility device from the company, the U3-X. The balancing and navigation system is best demonstrated in the video below, but the gist of it is that the primary wheel has small rotating wheels connected to it that allow the unit to pull off zero-point turns and manuverability that should be sufficient for indoor use, according to Honda. Just like the Segway, you control speed and direction by leaning slightly, but Honda says that there's also an option to drive the unit using a touchscreen-based app. Unfortunately, unlike the Segway, the Uni-Cub isn't yet available commercially, though Honda will start trialling the device at Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation this June. We can't wait to give it a spin — we just hope it's a bit easier to control than the "Solowheel of death."