Japanese industrial giant Honda has just announced the latest in its range of battery powered ‘personal mobility’ devices, the Honda UNI-CUB. Behind the cute name lies a long history of technological hard work, the fruits of which we first saw back in 2009 with the Honda U3–X. This new incarnation of the scoot-about is similar, but offers a number of refinements which have obviously come about through extensive user testing.
For one thing, the new product has a much more comfortable looking seating arrangement. Rather than perched on a sparse split seat, you’re actually sitting on a real soft seat, rather like a motor scooter. The second obvious change is the addition of a third ‘wheel’ at the back, which the company says is to aid in stable steering.
It’s hard to tell at this early stages what other changes there are, but the end result seems to be very similar; a small, very maneuverable mode of personal transport which can ferry a person around at up to 6km/h for a range of 6 kilometers. Full scale testing of the device will start in June, and Honda appears to be pitching the thing for use in large-scale indoor environments rather than as an outdoor people mover.
This kind of makes sense, since the Segway proved that taking innovative transportation products outdoors and getting them accepted is not that easy, especially with the huge legislative issues surrounding personal safety nowadays. Of course the usual comments are bound to fly, whether this is yet another excuse for us to avoid exercise, do we really need this kind of tool etc, but there’s no doubt a market exists for these small scooters, if only to help those with serious physical infirmities.
Let’s just hope we don’t all end up like the scooter bound saps in Wall-E, eh?