Between Honda UNI-CUB and walking, I will walk for now

Personal mobility devices could substitute walking, especially at warehouses. The Honda UNI-CUB is a barstool on wheels that jostles around in wakeful hypnic jerks.

Honda’s participation at Haneda Airport Robot Experiment Project 2016 entailed demos and testing of its personal mobility device, Honda UNI-CUB. We got that opportunity today at an enclosed hall at the Twin Ring Motegi Moto GP Circuit, and I’ll remember it for long. For one, human strength and balance needn’t always go hand in hand.

While, there’s no substitute to walking, Honda UNI-CUB could work as a mobility device, and is a lot more well behaved than a Segway. Seated movement isn’t for everyone, especially if you’ve never had any practice.

For starters, just when I thought, I was getting ahead, I almost fell. Of the 4 rounds I managed to get through, the second almost had me on the ground. Luckily users can easily touch the ground with their feet if need be, and your hands remain free. In case you come face to face with another person, contact can be mitigated just as one would avoid making contact with another when walking.

It’s the feeling of not having control over it that does you in, so it’s a mental limitation, and hopefully the next encounter will be more fruitful. Honda UNI-CUB has a human weight limitation of 100kgs. It’s sensitive to movement and will move in the direction you tilt your body, so you make every attempt to sit straight and be still, which is again quite difficult to accomplish in a short span.

The Honda UNI-CUB display at Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem (CES) 2017 showed the world what this self-balancing personal mobility device is capable. A rider must sit on it to control speed, and direction through a shift in body weight. With the UNI-CUB’s API open, the aim was to create software to control the device from a smartphone and other devices to improve its functionality to a wider audience. Movement can be forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonal, so users can maneuver it among people, and not just on empty test areas.

Honda UNI-CUB personal mobility device is compact with a comfortable saddle seat. It’s balance control technology and omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System) allows riders to use it with the same flexibility they enjoy when walking.

UNI-CUB is a more feedback centric variant that fed on data gathered from users after thorough testing. Over the years, UNI-CUB has become smaller and lighter, with changes in design and materials to improve usability.

Honda UNI-CUB features: It aims to move among people. Omni-directional movement mimics harmonious human movement. It’s compact size aims to take just about that much space that a rider can need. The turning wheel ensures swift turning through weight shift control. Meant for use in barrier-free indoor environments, it enhances controlled and balanced mobility.

Honda UNI-CUB runs on two wheels. A larger driving wheel propels forward movement, and a trailing steering wheel at 90 degrees to the front wheel. Lateral movement is possible since both wheels are made of multiple smaller wheels.

Honda UNI-CUB dimensions: 510 x 315 x 620 mm. Weight: 25 kgs. Power: Lithium-ion battery. Top speed: 6 km/h. Range: 6 kms. Seat height: 620 mm. Footrests double up as support stands.

(Disclosure: My visit to Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show is sponsored by Honda Cars India)