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’d eulogized riding Honda’s UNI-CUB ? personal mobility device to him.
It’s a typical reaction to the next generation of transport from the people who write solely about the four-wheeled current generation. Indeed, those who are of healthy body, and not elderly, or mobility impaired, usually don’t quite fathom the need for more sedate yet practical forms of transport.
The world is facing an energy crisis, a global warming crisis brought on by humanity polluting the atmosphere, severe overcrowding in cities and a host of complex mobility problems, and yet the vast majority of us continue to drive cars weighing several tons with four or more seats as our sole personal transport. Given perspective, this is not the answer.
Personal mobility solutions of the future <em>must</em> be much smaller, use far less energy, and reduce pollution to a minimum.
In the last few years, I’ve tried many non-conventional personal transport solutions – many Segway models and Chinese clones of the revolutionary self-balancing design, the Yikebike, several prototypes of Toyota’s iReal, several prototypes of Toyota’s Winglet, Robstep’s M1, General Motors prototype EN-V self-balancing car plus a variety of one-, two-, three- and four-wheeled mobility solutions and while many have impressed me, none have had quite as much impact as the Honda UNI-CUB ? I tried two weeks ago at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Like many of those devices, Honda’s UNI-CUB ? is self-balancing, but it offers so much more than simply staying upright of its own accord.
The main reason for my fascination with the MINI-CUB is the astonishing ease-of-use thanks to its very advanced user interface which gives using the machine a “degree of difficulty” of zero.
From the moment it moved with my 85 kg weight aboard, I realized the UNI-CUB ? nano-EV offered something very close to a direct vehicle-brain-interface, with only “intention” required to move in a certain direction or speed.
Though it deduces its instructions (the rider’s intentions) using a combination of complex but known technologies, it is the refinement of the control software which is the most impressive – it seems to “know” what you want it to do, giving it a telepathic feel, and it obeys your thoughts so smoothly, that confidence is inspired from the first moment. The other factor which made it one of the thrills of a lifetime, is its driving wheel, which is so advanced that it might one day become recognized as the “Wheel V2.0” – Honda’s Omni Traction Drive System.
For those enchanted by ingenious technological solutions (AKA Gizmag’s readership of four million human beings per month), the Omni Traction Drive System will be recognized as mechanical artistry at its finest.
The omni-directional wheel consists of many small motor-controlled wheels connected to form one large wheel.