Honda has released a new promotional video showcasing the U3-X Personal Mobility Prototype. I’m not sure that I buy that the U3-X’s self-balancing technology is the product of ASIMO R&D, but hey, whatever Honda has to tell their stockholders to keep the ASIMO research going is fine by me.
I wouldn’t mind trying one, but even with its fancy balance control the U3-X appears to move rather slowly, and I don’t know how well it would handle a bumpy sidewalk or road crossing. The Segway and its ilk are definitely too big and clunky for me, and simply don’t look all that cool. Toyota’s Winglet looks the most sporty, almost like a skateboard, but unlike the U3-X you have to remain standing to ride on it. Since these are all meant to be used where walking would become tiresome, such as in a shopping mall, they have to be small. I think the Winglet wins out in this category.
On the other hand, there are devices that are meant to replace automobiles for short distance trips, like Toyota’s i-Real, which is basically a souped-up wheelchair. This sort of makes sense for older people who may have difficulty riding a bicycle as it won’t produce emissions like a car. However, at the end of the day it may be simply too difficult to come up with something as useful, carbon-neutral, and as easy to ride as a good ol’ fashion bike – which has the side benefit of providing light exercise!
[source: Honda @ YouTube]