Honda Unicycle in Time Magazine's Top 50 Inventions 2009

Honda's U3-X 'personal mobility' device has been named at number 27 in Time Magazine's annual Top 50 Inventions list.

Designed to help improve the lives of the mobility-impaired, Honda's U3-X utilises the technology from Honda's ASIMO robot project with its omnidirectional driving system. The rider sits on the U3-X which has forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonal movement.

Similar to a unicycle, the compact one-wheel-drive U3-X is a standalone device designed to be small, safe and unobtrusive enough to exist alongside pedestrians.

Users can adjust speed, move, turn and stop in all directions by leaning their upper body to shift body weight. Offering a battery life of one hour, the U3-X can reach speeds of up to six kilometres per hour.

The U3-X concept's development includes experiments in a real-world environment to verify the practicality of the device.

Honda has been conducting robotics research at the Honda R&D Co. Ltd. Fundamental Technology Research Centre in Japan since 1986.