Honda's electric unicycle in action

Honda demonstrates its U3-X at the 2010 Geneva auto show.

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GENEVA--Honda's display at the 2010 Geneva auto show included the new hybrid CR-Z , which we saw previously at the 2010 Detroit auto show, and some electric vehicles demonstrating Honda's commitment to sustainable mobility, the most curious of which was the U3-X personal mobility device.

But nothing was more interesting than seeing a live demonstration of the device, a woman effortlessly piloting the U3-X around the stage through slight body shifts. She was able to travel forward and back, and glide to either side, making it look incredibly easy and graceful. As we imagined trying the device out, a picture of absolute mayhem and bloody broken bones emerged.

But as the demonstration proved, a well-trained person can operate the device. The U3-X uses one big wheel for forward and back motion, with lots of little wheels perpendicularly wrapped around the outside of the big wheel to provide side to side motion. The device's programming makes it always try to stay in an upright position, so that when the operator leans forward, for example, the big wheel races forward to keep the whole thing from falling over. Likewise with sideways motion.

Although Honda doesn't mention its speed, the U3-X can run for one hour on its lithium ion battery. Weighing 10 kilograms, it's a little heavy to put in your carry-on luggage, but it would fit well in the trunk of a car. Honda showed off the U3-X alongside its EV-N electric car , the idea being that the two modes of transport would complement each other for emission-free transportation.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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