Honda's next big step in mobility; a device much more classier and comfortable than hover-boards.
Yesterday at the 2016 Canadian International Auto Show, we had the opportunity to give Honda’s new mobility device, the UNI-CUB, a quick test run around the Honda exhibit. On first glance, the UNI-CUB looks like some kind of electric, penguin robot. After closer analysis, however, you realize it’s actually a two-wheeled (one large forward driving wheel and another smaller wheel in the rear), electric mobility chair.
The UNI-CUB is compact, and features a saddle seat (which is surprisingly comfortable) with sensors underneath to detect rider input. The seat is also adjustable to accommodate different body sizes. Honda’s Omni Traction Drive System allows the device to move in all directions and manages to traverse over reasonably sized bumps or imperfections in the surface with little discomfort to the rider.
To command the UNI-CUB forward or backward a slight lean of the body is required in that direction. To turn, the rider uses their body rather than their hips. This system is controlled by Honda’s “weight shift control” which adjusts direction based on the center of gravity of the rider. Honda has also included two pegs to comfortably rest the users feet when in motion or act as stands to keep the device upright while off/charging. Sensors monitor the amount of yaw and tilt, as well as driver input, to deliver the safest riding experience. A subtle “beep” notifies the rider if they are controlling the UNI-CUB too aggressively, while a more rapid signal warns the driver of a potential accident.
Once the rider gets the hang of it, the UNI-CUB becomes quite nimble and can be operated at a higher rate of speed. With a top speed of 6km/h and a 6km range generated from a removable lithium-ion battery, don’t expect to ride these on the street. However, travelling 6km/h on the UNI-CUB does feel a lot more faster and is much more enjoyable than it seems. More useful applications of the device are shopping malls or other indoor public places such as airports.
Honda is now developing a UNI-CUB β which is a more close to production version that addresses all the issues experienced with the original UNI-CUB (what we rode). Overall, we had an absolute blast riding the UNI-CUB and didn’t notice any issues during our short test. We really hope to see these come into production and hope to see groups of UNI-CUB’s “racing” around our local malls.