Honda has created a curious little item called the Uni-Cub, a personal transport vehicle designed to carry one person at slow speeds inside and out. The Segway may consider itself warned.
Too close for the car and too far to walk
Many of the trips in a car’s lifetime are for a few miles or less. However, a small number of vehicles allow one to avoid using a car and offer faster transportation than walking.
One is a bicycle. There is also the golf cart. However, bicycles aren’t motorized and golf carts are a bit bulky if the vehicle is going to be used by only one person. Thus, a new generation of personal transport, often using electric power, has been invented in the past decade. One of the most popular was the Segway, the electric two-wheel upright scooter.
Honda, according to Automobile magazine, has a new solution for exactly the sort of person who wants a vehicle to transport only themselves for short distances, called the Uni-Cub.
A tip of the hat
The Uni-Cub is a tip of the hat to the Honda Cub, the small motorcycle Honda has been making for more than half a century. The Cub is extremely popular in Southeast Asia as a cheap mode of transportation, which millions use as their primary mode of transport. The Uni-Cub transports one person, hence “Uni-Cub.” It isn’t a true unicycle, as it has two wheels.
The Uni-Cub resembles an upright vacuum cleaner with two foot rests and a seat. It has two wheels, one in the main body and one in a trailing rear pod. The wheel in the main housing uses Honda’s Omni Traction System, which uses a large number of very small tires, mounted horizontally on tiny electric motors, to make up one bigger wheel. The system was also featured in a similar concept vehicle, the U3-X, which Honda showed off a few years ago.
The tiny tires can move the vehicle side-to-side or diagonally, or they can lock in place and move the vehicle forward like a paddleboat wheel. The wheel in the trailing housing is fixed; the front wheel provides propulsion. The user steers and controls the throttle by leaning, similar to the Segway.
May go into production
According to Slashgear, the electric range is 6 kilometers (roughly 3.2 miles) and the top speed is about 6 kilometers per hour (about 3.5 miles per hour).
Honda, according to the Wall Street Journal, wants to market the Uni-Cub to people who have to go long distances indoors, such as people who work in factories, warehouses or people in airports. The developers want to gauge interest before giving the green-light to the project. The closest device on the market is the Segway, which retails for $9,300.
However, for less than 1 percent than the cost of a Segway, one can buy a pair of good walking shoes. One can hit about the same speed of the Uni-Cub walking briskly.