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Honda's Answer To the Segway 247

Posted by timothy
from the will-change-how-cities-are-built dept.
lcreech writes with an excerpt from the Daily Mail's description of a new Segway-style one-person vehicle being shown off by Honda: "The vehicle looks like a very modern unicycle and to ride it you simply lean your weight in the direction you want to go, whether that's forward, backwards or even sideways. It maintains its own balance travelling up to 3.7MPH. Not very fast."
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Honda's Answer To the Segway

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:44PM (#29531699) Journal

    Lets be happy that we're probably the last generation that can watch how the beautiful girls walk on street in their red dresses and nice legs and ass. Sooner or later this will be reality, in a bad and a good way. While convenience is nice, it has bad sides too.

    That being said, I would so use this. Can I get a comfortable computer chair version too, so I can get a beer easily (and one of those japanese beer serving machines [youtube.com] please )

    • by russ1337 (938915) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:59PM (#29531901)
      that was my first thought... an awesome office chair.

      Second thought was that it will work some muscles that aren't normally used.. with all that leaning moving and stuff...
      • that was my first thought... an awesome office chair.

        I was thinking more along the lines of tarted-up unicycle, which just makes me want a real (oldschool) unicycle. Damn you, Slashdot!
      • "... an awesome office chair."

        Except, with the Honda vehicle, if there is a failure in the computer system, you die. But we Slashdot readers know that computer failures hardly ever happen, right?

        Segways made me appreciate bicycles. If you hit something large, like a rock, it's possible you will be carried over it. Bicycles have no computer system to fail, and they are inexpensive.

        I rode a Segway. It had a RISK OF DEATH [flickr.com] (all caps) label.

        My experience of that article about Honda is that it says to me, "Buy a Toyota. That company concentrates on doing one thing well." I recently bought a Toyota because Consumer Reports said Hondas had automatic transmission problems.
        • by Salamande (461392) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:08PM (#29532703)
          Hate to break it to you, but Toyota does robotics [toyota.co.jp], as well. Most heavy industries do at least a bit of this stuff, especially in Japan.
        • After parsing your post a second time, yes, Segways are mighty unstable. It's not as easy as it looks. Run over anything bigger than a tennis ball with one of the wheels, and you will get tossed forward or sideways headfirst. But it looks like a wipeout with the Honda device results in a spill similar to having a chair pulled out from under you - still a good way to hurt yourself but at least you fall ass first and not sideways or forwards from a standing height.

          The most common Segway wipeouts seem to be ex

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by aurispector (530273)

            The basic question is this: why bother with these things? So mall cops don't have to do any actual walking? Total waste of time.

        • by slamb (119285) * on Thursday September 24, 2009 @05:09PM (#29533437) Homepage

          Except, with the Honda vehicle, if there is a failure in the computer system, you die. ... I rode a Segway. It had a RISK OF DEATH (all caps) label.

          If the bicycle were invented today, it would come with that label. We live in a society that is increasingly litigious and risk-averse. These both apply more for newer and higher-tech things - more so for commercial airplanes than cars, in spite of their relative risks.

          People don't usually die in {bicycle,Segway,Honda thing} crashes, but they do sometimes, and for a new device, that's enough that its creators usually fear lawsuits without that label. These things might be a bit silly and overpriced, but they're not dangerous no matter what the stupid sticker says.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Stevecrox (962208)
          You think thats bad I bought a Bicycle Helmet from Tesco's and that had a "Risk of Danger" sticker on the box.
        • by tmosley (996283) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @05:39PM (#29533829)
          Rubber duckies have "RISK OF DEATH" labels on them now too. All thanks to kindly Nannie State.

          Regulations force a climate of CYA to the point of crying wolf all day every day. A vehicle that travels at 3.7 miles an hour IS NOT DANGEROUS. AT ALL.
        • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:28PM (#29535467) Homepage
          That sticker is really big. I bet a child could easily pry it off and choke on it.
      • that was my first thought... an awesome office chair. Second thought was that it will work some muscles that aren't normally used.. with all that leaning moving and stuff...

        Yeah, maybe using one of these might allow a person to work off their love-handles. ;) However, as an office chair - they'd definitely have to add a backrest and arm-rests. With just the fanny-pad, I and the awkward way of half-sitting, I can't see the demo-product being very comfortable for any real length of time. Even the guys demo'ing the product in the video didn't look like they were terribly sure of their balance or comfort. But whether this product can actually find a practical use in the world

    • I'm waiting for one of those cool lounge chairs from Wall-E...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Lets be happy that we're probably the last generation that can watch how the beautiful girls walk on street in their red dresses and nice legs and ass.

      "Probably"? Bicycles, roller blades, cars, and segways have failed to prevent this sight from occurring.

      • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:17PM (#29532105)
        Where I live there is a disturbing number of scooters for the grossly obese - those people who are so corpulent that even walking is beyond them. Whenever I see one, I get to thinking that the only reason why Segways haven't brought on the chubpocalypse is because they were priced too high for lower income people (who have the highest rate of obesity) to afford.
        • Also, Segways require you to stand upright. Do you really think the scooter jockeys would be willing to stand up, even if the Segway cost the same as their nice comfy electric armchairs on wheels?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hatta (162192) *

        Bicycles and roller blades give you a work out. Cars *have* contributed to the obesity epidemic. Obesity is inversely related to the availability of sidewalks in an area. Segways are too dorky to become popular enough to make a difference.

        • Communities where persons have been completely dependent on cars from childhood to old age have existed for much longer than the obesity epidemic. Cars do not seem to be a major stimulus (though they certainly do contribute).

          While "correlation is not causation" and all that, there is a strong correlation between the increased use of high fructose corn syrup and the increase in obesity in the USA. If other countries that control HFCS usage also show an increase in obesity, then clearly this would not be si

          • by xaxa (988988)

            Communities where persons have been completely dependent on cars from childhood to old age have existed for much longer than the obesity epidemic. Cars do not seem to be a major stimulus (though they certainly do contribute).

            I think it took time for the effects to materialise, and for the number of people affected by them to become significant.

            In this country (UK), it was unusual for a child to be taken to school by car in the 1980s, but by the end of the 1990s it was completely normal.
            That, kids' TV, video games and a worse diet are the main factors behind childhood obesity.

            The least-obese area in the UK is London. London has the least people who drive to work, a result of having the best public transport and the most walkable

            • "The least-obese area in the UK is London. London has the least people who drive to work, a result of having the best public transport and the most walkable communities."

              Is the ONLY thing that differentiates London and the rest of the UK? The highest per capita income is not relevant?

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:26PM (#29532187) Homepage Journal

      Don't worry, I'm sure that when horses were first tamed someone bemoaned the loss of walking. I imagine the same thing happened when the carriage was invented, and the bicycle, and the automobile. Pretty girls will still walk, and when they don't they usually get fat, anyway.

      Nothing to worry about in that respect.

      • by Ash Vince (602485)

        Don't worry, I'm sure that when horses were first tamed someone bemoaned the loss of walking. I imagine the same thing happened when the carriage was invented, and the bicycle, and the automobile. Pretty girls will still walk, and when they don't they usually get fat, anyway.

        Of course the difference there is that riding a horse is actually quite hard work. It is pretty easy if the horse is at a gallop, but they cannot gallop all the time so you have to learn how to sit on a horse while it trots. This kills your thighs because you have to use your legs as suspension.

      • by sohare (1032056)

        Don't worry, I'm sure that when horses were first tamed someone bemoaned the loss of walking. I imagine the same thing happened when the carriage was invented, and the bicycle, and the automobile.

        Nothing to worry about in that respect.

        A good point, but the original bicycles actually were seen as a device that would only increase the health and mobility of the populace.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:49PM (#29532491)

      The girls who need to ride something around instead of walking reasonable distances don't stay beautiful for long.

      Now, there's nothing quite like pretty girls in skirts riding bicycles.

    • That being said, I would so use this. Can I get a comfortable computer chair version too, so I can get a beer easily (and one of those japanese beer serving machines please)

      This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Does this thing come with a manual on "Beer Caching Protocol" (BCP)? Because it looks EXTREMELY high latency.

    • by CDS (143158)
      Why do I keep thinking of the "hoverchairs" from Wall-E ... and the resulting balloons of blubber everybody turned into whenever I see articles like this???
    • by MarkGriz (520778)

      Lets be happy that we're probably the last generation that can watch how the beautiful girls walk on street in their red dresses and nice legs and ass.

      ... at least until The Matrix comes along.

    • by sohare (1032056)

      Lets be happy that we're probably the last generation that can watch how the beautiful girls walk on street in their red dresses and nice legs and ass. Sooner or later this will be reality, in a bad and a good way. While convenience is nice, it has bad sides too.

      That being said, I would so use this. Can I get a comfortable computer chair version too, so I can get a beer easily (and one of those japanese beer serving machines [youtube.com] please )

      Are you really so sure that sooner or later this technology will be ubiquitous? Is this the same reality in which every single person has a flying car? The fact is that in very dense urban centers walking is and will probably remain the preferred method of travel. You can still move around and travel in a tightly packed crowd. On the other hand all the free-moving vehicles humans have thus far devised require some measure of space to operate. I think what we'll see more of are automated systems of trav

  • My review (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:48PM (#29531741) Journal

    No handlebars. Less speed than a Segway. Lame.

  • Not cool enough (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stjobe (78285) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:49PM (#29531767) Homepage

    Until I get this [gearbits.com] I'm not satisfied.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      I always keep wondering this. How the hell do you keep balance with just one wheel?

      • by stjobe (78285)

        Gyros, computers, and magic. Last one optional.

        • by Dog-Cow (21281)

          I'd think if you had magic, the first two would be the optional parts.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by stjobe (78285)

            "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

      • Re:Not cool enough (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tacvek (948259) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:40PM (#29532381) Journal

        The real answer is that side to side balance is maintained by precession, (like on a bicycle) combined with some additional balancing by shifting body weight (also critical on a bike). Unlike on a bike, steering based corrections to balance are not present. With sufficiently wide wheel unicycles, wheel geometry becomes the primary side to side stabilzing method.

        Steering is completely based on leaning in normal unicycles. Normal bicycles also include an additional steering component (the additional wheel that turns).

        Forward and backwards balance is maintained by a combination of of creating a mental feedback loop that causes one to vary cycling speed as necessary to keep the seat roughly upright, along with manually shifting weight forwards and backwards.

        For electronic unicycles, steering and side to side balance generally are the same as with manual ones. However the forward and backwards stability does not rely on any weight shifting on the part of the rider, but solely on varying the motor speed as needed to keep the seat upright.

        Using a feedback system for keeping the seat upright automatically gives the segway-style speed control on these devices. In order to do more traditional style speed controls requires a more complicated system that varies the angle of the seat that the system tries to maintain as necessary such that the average speed remains as desired. Far more complicated, and not needed, so I've not seen any e-unicycle that does not use segway-style speed control.

        There are some tricks that allow steering not based on leaning, and some of the e-unicycle designs I have seen use those, but others use lean based steering which works fine, except for at near stationary speeds, but some of these other systems allow for a smaller turning radius.

        • You clearly didn't read the article. By leaning sideways the device moves side ways, it doesn't fall down and you don't compensate for it somehow. This isn't just another motorized unicycle.

        • by Tacvek (948259)

          And looking closer at Honda's version, they use a special form of wheel that works side to side as well as front to back. There are several methods of doing that, but conceptually a large rubber (or other material) sphere can be used. Mount motors with wheels against the sphere at right angles to each other. Think like the sensors in old ball-based mice, which are at right angles to the ball, but rather than being sensors they are motors for spinning the ball as desired.

          So now you have the ability to contr

  • by Kirin Fenrir (1001780) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:50PM (#29531783)
    I can do one better. My invention has two wheels, and is entirely human-powered. It's good for the environment, and has a max speed of around 25mph! (legs willing).

    I'll call it: a bicycle.
    • by mdarksbane (587589) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:32PM (#29532279)

      Bicycles are far too hard on the environment. You have to mine the iron and aluminum ore and burn coal to process it. That not even counting the (imported) petroleum in the great grease, vulcanized rubber in the wheels, and poly-something-or-other foam in the seat.

        Go for the original in environmentally friendly transportation - horses! And when your old model wears out, you can recycle it into glue and dog food!

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      When rolling down a 1/2 mile steep hill, I've managed to get my $250 hybrid bike up to 39MPH. Can't QUITE break 40, but 39 is with the whole frame shuddering and wobbling in a pretty frakkin scary way anyway, so I've never dared push it any further. I'm also carrying about 20 pounds of gear (change of clothes, computer, etc). A "real" $1200 unladen road bike would probably bust 45 fairly easily down the same hill, if you could find a cyclist stupid enough to try it.

      If he spent an extra $100 on shoes, he

      • Watching you argue with yourself is funny, but, downhill shouldn't really count.

        You're right, I'm too honest for this marketing gig. That's why I was let go from Best Buy after three months. I didn't lie about Monster cables.
        • by natehoy (1608657)

          Hey, at least Best Buy didn't get into "audio perfect" power strips... Monster cables are a scam, but they are one of the cheaper "look how much money you can spend on apparent increases in audio quality" scams out there. :)

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      I had an ultra-low-speed bike accident the other week. My ankle was really sore for a while. I couldn't walk on it for a couple days. I wonder if a device like this would have helped. (Though I'm obviously not interested in spending a few grand if I was only going to use it for a week).
  • 3.7 MPH?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by SputnikPanic (927985) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:51PM (#29531797)

    That's it? Come on, we can walk faster than that!

    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:53PM (#29531813) Journal

      Somehow, I am thinking that the people who would use this would not be capable of walking faster.

      • Somehow, I am thinking that the people who would use this would not be capable of walking faster.

        Unfortunately, they're probably also too lazy and uncoordinated to support themselves upright.
      • by natehoy (1608657)

        Somehow, I think this unit would not be able to carry the weight of the people who would use this.

      • by tsotha (720379)

        3.7 mph is a pretty sprightly clip. It's far faster than most people walk and most people aren't capable of maintaining that pace for long periods. Sure, if you're 20 years old and late for work it's not too fast. But this thing would be a godsend for older people or people who have bad knees provided it has a decent range and it fits into a car trunk (and it's light enough to pick it up). But the big plus will be if it can use the same space as pedestrians.

        As I understand it the big reason the Segway

  • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:54PM (#29531823)

    The single wheel on the U3-X is made up of many tiny motor-controlled wheels, packed inside the bigger wheel, allowing the device to swerve in any direction.

    Sup dawg, we heard you like unicycling so we put some wheels in your wheel so you can unicycle while you unicycle

    • Re:sounds familiar (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:22PM (#29532149) Homepage

      The single wheel on the U3-X is made up of many tiny motor-controlled wheels, packed inside the bigger wheel, allowing the device to swerve in any direction.

      A wheel made of up of smaller wheels [omniwheel.com] is one of the classic bad ideas of robotics. Back in the 1980s, when robot motion planning software barely worked, many mobile robots were "holonomic" or "omni-drive": they could move in any direction without turning first. One of the popular geometries was three big wheels on axes 120 degrees apart [com.com] (that robot is in a display case in the lobby of the computer science building at Stanford), with each big wheel composed of little wheels around the rim. This mechanism can execute any rotation or translation.

      The problem is that the little wheels only work on hard, flat terrain. Shag rugs are a problem. Grass, dirt, and mud, no way.

  • by gobbo (567674) <wrewrite@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:58PM (#29531887) Journal

    If you're intrepid enough to sit on a motorized unicycle, automated stabilizers aside, you're very likely able and willing to walk 4mph. So, it's no surprise they don't plan on bringing it to market.

    However, nice proof of concept as a base for robots.

  • No Thanks (Score:3, Funny)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:58PM (#29531889) Journal

    I think I'll just go back to riding around town on my goat. He's much faster.

  • Been done already... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jizziknight (976750) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:58PM (#29531895)

    This place: http://focusdesigns.com/ [focusdesigns.com] has a working version that you can buy today, apparently. It's also more than twice as fast at 10 MPH.

    Actually, a lot of people have done this before. Just google "self balancing unicycle" or "powered unicycle".

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Fifteen hundred bucks???? Wow, I think I'll buy a bicycle instead. Or a used motorcycle.

    • by dlsmith (993896) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:36PM (#29532341)

      That's hardly the same thing, although it may fit the description in the summary. If you watch the video, you'll see that the Honda vehicle allows the rider to glide around in any direction, kind of like a wheeled stool; the unicycle you're linking to only moves in one dimension (forward or back). It also doesn't maintain left/right balance at all.

      It should go without saying that these three self-balancing vehicles—the Segway, the Honda vehicle, and your unicycle—are designed with significantly different applications in mind, despite sharing some similar technology. The Honda vehicle seems best-suited for maneuvering indoors, not as a replacement for your car/bike.

    • Just read the FAQ: http://focusdesigns.com/faq/ [focusdesigns.com]

      How fast does it go?

      An SBU falling vertically through the air will accelerate at an amazing rate of 32 feet per second per second until it reaches its terminal velocity of 193MPH. (We do not recommend traveling this fast.) On level ground and full charge we say it can go 10MPH depending on riders guts (mentally and physically).

  • Neat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Something like this would be very useful for people with mild to moderate mobility problems (e.g. the elderly, people with neurological disorders, people recovering from an injury). It would be perfectly fine for moving around a home, hospital, grocery store, etc. In these kinds of environments, 3.4 mph is a perfectly good speed.

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      But you'd need a pretty refined sense of balance and good motor control to use it. People with neurological disorders and the elderly, in general, are not going to have the fine motor control to keep from smashing into other people, and turning them into potential customers... oh, wait, I think I just figured out their business model.

  • Nice design (Score:3, Funny)

    by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:00PM (#29531917)

    So they saw the South Park [damianm.com] version and thought, "Not gay enough. Make the whole thing a penis." And then decided it was too gay and popped a whole through the side to insubstantially reduce the wang-iness.

  • stepping stone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:05PM (#29531973)
    This is just a proof of concept project. Honda encourages engineers to pursue "pet" projects in mobility. The ones with promise are given more resources. Sometimes they even become actual products, like Honda Jet.
    • This is just a proof of concept project. Honda encourages engineers to pursue "pet" projects in mobility. The ones with promise are given more resources. Sometimes they even become actual products, like Honda Jet.

      Exactly. This vehicle is not practical for real world travel. It suffers from K9 mobility syndrome, which is worse than Dalek mobility syndrome. K9 could only travel on studio flooring or plywood laid on the ground. This thing would not be able to navigate gravel or curbs, and probably not even carpet.

  • by qw0ntum (831414) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:07PM (#29532007) Journal

    *point and laugh*

    Seriously, though. Years late and... conspicuously not needed?

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      That's what I was thinking. This sounds about like "Honda's answer to self-inflicted groin injuries!"

  • Are you sure it's even real?

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:20PM (#29532129)

    While in general this thing is completely pointless, the way the wheel itself works is really cool. It's composed of cylinders which form the ring for the main wheel but allow sideways movement. Leave it up to the Japanese to dream up the most useless application for advanced technology, but it's cool that they're exploring unconventional concepts.

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:25PM (#29532181) Homepage

    I commuted to work by unicycle for several years and have done hundreds of miles in total. Modern unicycles have come a long way from the old days of a circus exhibit. There are lot of people who ride very long distances on them. A unicycle won't suit most people for commuting but it actually has more plus points than you'd think ...

    * Lighter weight than a bike, relatively easy to pick up and carry, or wheel along.
    * Takes less space than a bike to store indoors.
    * Cheaper than a bike of equivalent quality.
    * Once you're skilled you can "idle" on the spot (or just hop occasionally to shift the thing back under your centre of mass) so you may not have to put a foot down when waiting in traffic or at lights.
    * Potentially very mechanically simple.
    * Good exercise, including for your core muscles due to the postural component of keeping balanced.

    It's also a good attention grabber, if you like that sort of thing. I've observed that a lot of geeks, particularly computer geeks, seem to like unicycling. My guess is that this is because, relative to a bike, it requires a high degree of mental engagement but in a non-intellectual way. So you get to exercise your brain but in a way which distracts you from the pressures of logical thought processes.

    There are some commuting unicycles here:
    http://www.unicycle.com/shopping/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=1&subcat=7&cat=Commuter [unicycle.com]
    Note that handlebars are available, which allows experienced riders to take some weight of their "bits". Combined with modern saddles, a unicycle is a lot less punishing to your nether regions than you'd expect, though you obviously still need to take care!

    Finally, at the high end of the price range, there are unicycles with the Schlumpf (and Kris Holm-Schlumpf) hub-based gearing system. No exposed gearing but you can get something like a 1.5:1 increase in gear ratio, allowing you go go much faster whilst still having the wheel be small and light. In some ways I'd think this would be the best urban commuting unicycle for experienced riders.

    There are clear disadvantages to a unicycle to but I figure some folks here might be interested anyhow. Because an unpowered unicycle has made such a good commuting vehicle for me I wouldn't be surprised if an electrical one is actually more practical than you'd expect.

    [if anyone wants to find out more, the rec.sport.unicycling newsground, also available as a forum http://unicyclist.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=3 [unicyclist.com] will be able to answer your questions or you can just reply to me here - it's arguably even on topic!]

    • "it requires a high degree of mental engagement but in a non-intellectual way."

      BING!
      "What is Slashdot?"
      "Correct"
      "I'll take Geek wannabes for 1000, Alex.."

    • by Hatta (162192) *

      It's also a good attention grabber, if you like that sort of thing.

      That's exactly my problem with it. I can't go to the park and unicycle around without getting all sorts of attention I don't want. Yeah, it's anti-social, but I'd really rather get the same amount of attention a roller-blader or skate boarder gets. Same thing with juggling. I don't want to show off, I just like the zen state attained when focusing on nothing other than my body and a few objects.

      • Yeah, it's true. In the places I've ridden I've actually not found it too much of an issue - as long as you're riding *somewhere* people don't interrupt me. There's very little jeering here, most attention is positive if people notice at all. But where I live (Cambridge, UK), there are loads of bikes so people tend to filter out cyclists and sometimes don't notice me at all. I'm not even the only unicyclist commuter in town.

        I imagine there are places where riding a unicycle would be a lot more awkward.

  • by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:26PM (#29532189) Journal

    FTA: The single wheel on the U3-X is made up of many tiny motor-controlled wheels, packed inside the bigger wheel, allowing the device to swerve in any direction.

    Unicycle [wikipedia.org]: A unicycle is a one-wheeled human-powered vehicle.

  • FInally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:32PM (#29532287) Homepage Journal

    Something I can sit on while using my treadmill~

  • Not a new thing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eric Smith (4379) <eric@brouhahaPASCAL.com minus language> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:32PM (#29532289) Homepage Journal
    Trevor Blackwell has been riding around on a self-balancing motorized unicycle [tlb.org] for years now. His web site even gives instructions for building your own.

    Amazing that Honda with its vast R&D and engineering resources is now able to produce something that one guy as a hobby built designed and built for himself years ago. Gosh, I'm really impressed. I'll have my broker buy me some Honda stock immediately.

    • by Kozz (7764)

      Do you really think they look equivalent? I'd say Mr Blackwell's "eunicycle" is not exactly self-balancing in the same manner as this possible Honda product. Look at his arms out to his sides, constantly "assisting" the allegedly self-balancing device.

      Impressive, but not on the level of what Honda seems to have done. I suppose at the very least they'd have entirely different applications.

      • by Eric Smith (4379)
        Ooh, revolutionary. "Trevor only built something that balances in one dimension, we can one-up that!" Of course they can build something slightly better; they have billions of dollars of revenue to throw around. I'm still not especially impressed.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      His doesn't balance sideways, only front and back. That's a wee bit of a difference, don't you think?

  • The segway was an answer for nothing itself.
    Now we have an answer to an answer to a question nobody was asking.

  • Thank GOD (Score:2, Funny)

    by VisiX (765225)
    The Segway finally has some competition. I was getting tired of seeing Segways all over the place.
  • I really wish Clowntech had pursued mass-condensing technology to fit more people inside a small car instead...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:06PM (#29532685)

    As a long-term cyclist (specifically bicyclist, for you rice rocket fans out there), I see the design of this product as a great mistake. And before anyone comments: yes, I did watch the video, which due to camera filming angle is simply not revealing enough about the seat design to wean my concern. That said...

    Don't laugh -- the chance of pudendal nerve entrapment looks to be incredibly high with this kind of design. Women should be worried about urological complications, and men should be worried about impotency. UTIs are likely to increase with this kind of design too. Yes really.

    Any long-term cyclist, or doctor for that matter, can tell you that a decent saddle (seat) absolutely requires the perennial area be cut out/removed completely. The common saddle today has a recessed area (which does not help relieve pressure -- don't let anyone tell you otherwise), and many are still flat. The proper solution is to cut away the entire perennial area of the saddle, resulting in a literal a hole in the saddle. This ensures the arteries and nerves in your no-no spots don't get squashed. Some saddles consist of two cushions where your buttocks go with nothing in between, which works equally as well -- and the design of Honda's product (based on the video) may use this design, but it looks as if one's crotch literally rests on a fulcrum point of some kind.

    This may be TMI for some, but I speak from experience. In 2004 I started experiencing signs of perennial damage -- specifically, occasional sharp pains which originated in the perennial or anal area and shot through my body like a knife (commonly a sign of PNE). Urination also became complex (specifically minor overflow incontinence). It got worse over the course of 4-5 months. As a computer geek the first thing I did was replace my home and work seating (where I spent the majority of my time) -- no difference. At the 6 month mark I, despite the embarrassment, saw my doctor who immediately said "Aren't you a cyclist? Replace your saddle immediately. Buy one with the perennial area completely cut out -- not receded". I did as instructed and within a few weeks: no more pain. The incontinence problem resides, indicating there was some permanent damage (probably the detrusor muscle), but only on rare occasion. And thankfully there were no sexual side effects. :P

    I realise this device will probably not be used for long rides / rides over long distances, but given its slow rate of movement, rides would be longer than that of, say, a Segway, electric scooter, bicycle or similar device. Consider the implications of someone using one of these devices multiple times a day to get to work -- say, a distance of 2 miles round-trip.

    Honda should consider the risks involved with what they've created. Fix the design now to ensure no class-action lawsuits down the road.

  • Stone Age Tech... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jameskojiro (705701) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:57PM (#29533331) Journal

    Just read the comic B.C.

  • the mentally handicapped

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

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