Honda Unicycle -- here comes the future, and I want it

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As my cohorts enter their second childhood, more and more of them are finding it difficult to get around strictly on their own two feet.

Wheelchairs and scooters are a poor substitute -- expensive, hard to transport, and limited in flexibility. I had no notion of any better option, however, until I saw this video demonstrating the 2009 Honda U3-X Personal Mobility Concept. I SO want one.

The unicycle uses research done by Honda for its Asimo robot to create a one-wheeled device that the manufacturer claims is stable and intuitive. Unlike a bicycle, the U3-X requires no practice to learn how to use. Reportedly, the design compensates for imbalance, so even a novice user can simply squat and scoot. The unit weights only 20 pounds, moves at 4 mph, and the charge will last an hour.

A friend familiar with the challenges of those who use wheelchairs points out that the device has no way to transport books, groceries and pets. Frankly, I'm so blown away with the concept I never noticed, but given the genius that Honda shows with design, I expect this problem to be solved easily and elegantly before it comes to market.

The company reportedly has no plans to produce the device yet. Too bad; I'm ready to sign up for the first ones off the assembly line -- especially if they're covered in the new national health care plan.

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