Based on the downstairs display at the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit this week, you would think that Honda is barely an automaker. Instead, it was a company that focuses on robots, bizarre unicycles, motorcycles, and jets. We were not adverse to the car-related tech on display upstairs, but we wanted a closer look at the UNI-CUB and the Walking Assist Device.
The UNI-CUB is one of the strangest vehicles we’ve ever experienced. It feels telepathic, because when you’re sitting on it and think you want to go forward, your body naturally leans and then the UNI-CUB starts to move. The UNI part of the name stands for unicycle, but that’s kind of a misnomer, since this thing has more than one wheel. First off, there’s a tiny wheel for balance at the rear, but the main wheel itself is made up of multiple smaller wheels, which Honda calls the Omni Traction Drive System. This is what lets the UNI-CUB move side to side instead of just frontwards and backwards.
The Walking Assist Device is a small setup with motors, leg straps, and a battery pack. The idea is to have the machine help lift up your legs as you walk, with the target audience being people who have had an injury, like a stroke. The WAD sits outside your clothes and can help someone walk for about an hour from a 22.2V-1Ah lithium-ion battery. You can see more in the video here.