Segway Celebrates 10th Anniversary

What do you think of when you hear the name Segway? If you’re like many around, “tech failure” comes to mind. Dean Kamen’s invention of the Segway PT scooter was speculated to revolutionize personal transportation. The Segway was meant to usher in a new era of errand running and puttering around town.

We are all aware that didn’t happen. The Segway is still around and it isn’t a totally unusual site to see someone taking a Segway out for a “drive” in the park.  For a “failed” technology, that is a pretty remarkable feat!

Let’s talk about how the Segway actually works though.

Powering the Segway

Electric motors fueled by phosphate-based lithium batteries power the Segway. The scooters are easily charged by simply plugging them into a common electrical socket. Thanks to a combination of two computers, special software, tilt sensors, and five gyroscopic sensors the Segway stays upright and doesn’t tip over.

Making the Segway Move

Users play a role in making the Segway work too. When riders want to go forward, they move a control bar away from themselves. When they want to move in reverse, they move the same control bar closer to their body. The Segway notices a change in its balance point and adjusts the velocity to keep its riders balanced.  To steer, riders tilt a handlebar in the direction in which they need to move. Today’s Segway PT can move up to 12.5 miles an hour. It performs best, of course, in communities which include a good amount of sidewalks and other areas where the Segway can effectively motor.

Lowered Expectations

Experts touted that the Segway would be a bigger deal that Internet. Plainly the device did not live up to that level of hype!

However, once the Segway was released many thought it looked strange and you looked weird riding one. Others thought it looked dangerous. Regardless, the downsides were enough to prevent the Segway from reaching its promised potential.

Posted on: 01.11.12