Honda Unveils UNI-CUB

Getting from Point A to Point B is something we do all day, every day without much thought. We navigate the halls of our homes, half awake each morning as we prepare for the day. We slip behind the wheel of our car and drive to the office, the store, church, and a myriad of other destinations. Some of us rely on public transportation, or pedal around town on a bicycle. Motorcycles, scooters and even riding horseback are alternative modes of transportation. And once we are at our destination, most of us get around on foot whether in a shop, an office or really just about anywhere, with the exception of those who need assistance for medical reasons.

A little over a decade ago, we saw the advent of the Segway, a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered, electric vehicle invented by Dean Kamen and manufactured by Segway Inc. The Segway has met with mixed reactions and while initially banned from sidewalk use in many states, all but a few municipalities now allow them. The main concern of their usage is the safety of other pedestrians. Segways have a max speed of 12.5 mph, which is about three times faster than the average pedestrian. Others saw the invention as one more excuse to get less exercise than we already do. Segways are most commonly used by security companies, police departments, and tour groups. Overall, the concept has not really taken off, which is due in large part to the public perception that people riding them appear to be “smug” and “lazy.”

Despite these market barriers, Honda has just unveiled the new UNI-CUB “… a personal mobility device, designed for harmony with people. Featuring a compact design and comfortable saddle, UNI-CUB offers the same freedom of movement in all directions that a person enjoys while walking.”  This device has a top speed of 6km/h (3.7mph), about the same speed the average person walks. Furthermore, it’s designed so the user is situated about halfway between someone standing and someone seated in a normal chair.  Hmmm, wouldn’t it be just as easy to walk? And given all the recent focus on obesity and the need to walk more, not less, how popular will these become? Tell us what you think.