Remember that scene in WALL-E when our robot protagonist finally falls into the realm of the Axiom ship, only to find that all the humans are morbidly obese and sitting on floating chairs, consuming only liquid meals, and have nearly forgotten how to walk? That’s the feeling we get when we see this UNI-CUB mobility device recently announced by Honda.
A brother of the U3-X personal mobility device, the tiny UNI-CUB chair contains an omni-direction wheel and a second, smaller wheel base that both help maintain the user’s balance. The device moves at a top speed of 6 kilometers per hour, or 3.7 mph. Users can control the speed and direction from their smartphone or tablet… because nothing’s better than watching where you’re going than looking down at your gadget. To the UNI-CUB’s credit, direction can also be controlled by shifting your weight while on the pressure-sensitive, saddle style cushion. The machine can also climb inclined paths and gradients.
“This UNI-CUB sets your hands free while you’re riding on it and you can always put down your feet to feel safe,” said Kenichi Sueda, Honda’s chief engineer. “Moreover, it offsets shocks when you bump an obstacle or people in crowded places.”
Unlike the segway, the UNI-CUB has a much more minimal design and maintains a fairly leveled height so users aren’t towering over other people when they hop on the machine. Using lithium-ion battery, the full charge can get the UNI-CUB running for 6 km or 3.7 miles, and it is not specified how much weight the device can withstand. While the mobility concept is kind of cool especially for those who actually need the help, but we have to admit we fear for the future adaptations of this machine. If it gets to the point of the average person preferring to use these devices over actually walking, WALL-E may have it right after all with the future of our mankind.
A demonstration of the UNI-CUB is set to be unveiled in June at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Japan. In the mean time, here’s a video of the Honda UNI-CUB in action.