The fact that the streets aren’t exactly swarming with Segways seven years after they went on sale hasn’t stopped some major players taking tentative steps (or wheels) into the personal mobility arena with their own device prototypes. As we’ve seen previously Toyota is working on the Winglet, while Honda recently displayed its U3-X experimental vehicle at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. Now Nissan is getting in on the act with its own prototype developed in partnership with Japan’s National Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (AIST).
The device consists of two footboards, which balance upon two wheels – a main wheel and a smaller wheel on the outer side. Each footboard features a ski-pole-like handlebar to help the user maintain balance while in motion and a motor to drive the device at around 5kmh. When joined together tilt sensors inside the footboards detect the user’s shift in weight to turn. Sensors can also detect nearby obstacles allowing the possibility of the device being used to carry luggage that follows its owner around.
When the footboards are separated the device’s movement is limited to forward and reverse with turning accomplished in the same way as a stilt walker – lifting each leg and device and turning before placing it back on the ground.
There’s no indication of if or when it will enter production, but the AIST and Nissan say they will continue to develop the device.