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Segway Getting Real-Life Tests 529

Posted by timothy
from the life-is-grand-when-you-own-lobbyists dept.
EReidJ writes: "washingtonpost.com (no registration required) has an article on real-life use of the new Segway scooters, including an update on some of the safety issues and where state laws currently are with use of the Segway. (20 states have specifically passed laws to allow the Segway on sidewalks.) Interesting read."
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Segway Getting Real-Life Tests

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  • Yeah but.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kwishot (453761) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:09PM (#3413029)
    Those of us in the northern portion of the country are still screwed. Here in Wisconsin, these things would never work on an icy sidewalk.
    Anyone try riding a bicycle on ice?
    • Back in the early 90's, I was living in Edmonton. I had a cousin there going to the University of Alberta, and he didn't have a car. Biked the entire winter, with the exception of two weeks. When it got to below -30C, he found out that the grease in his bottom bracket froze, and he couldn't turn the pedals.


      So yes, you can ride a bicycle on ice, if you have the right equipment.

    • by systemaster (174904) <sys_mastNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @09:18PM (#3413395) Homepage
      Even in milwaukee where you are required to shovel within 24 hrs...there are still places with to much snow for a segway, look at it, it has almost no ground clearance. The tires a large enough that tall bumbs, think like speed bumb, may not be a problem. But snow or tall grass, even with rock hard dirt, would be a problem.
      I would counter your thought of a bike on ice...the way the segway works with gyros(I think, never looked at tech specs of it) it might behave better on ice than a bike...it also has a much lower center of gravity, which would also help on ice. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it would be really usable on ice, but I bet it would be better than a traditional bike.
    • Re:Yeah but.... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jfortier (141983)
      They did a demo at my school (GATech), where they claimed to have developed snow and ice tires.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Anyone try riding a bicycle on ice?

      Sure, they're called icicles.
    • Re:Yeah but.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bfields (66644)

      Anyone try riding a bicycle on ice?

      You need to take a trip to the ICEBIKE website [enteract.com]....

      I rode through the Michigan winter this year. It was a pretty mild winter, and they're pretty fast to clear the roads around here. But it is possible to ride under those kinds of conditions--go very slow, and be very sure you know how much turning/braking you can get away with before you skid!

      Oh, and get some really, really good protection for your extremities--the rest of your body will stay warm from the exercise, but those fingers can get cold fast....

      --Bruce Fields

  • segway seems too big (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iocat (572367) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:10PM (#3413032) Homepage Journal
    The Segway seems cool, but it doesn't seem like sidewalks are big enough for it. Imagine 200 college kids with jogging strollers (to give an idea of the size) all trying to go somewhere after class.

    An amazing technological achievment no doubt, but I'm worried about the practicality.

    • Your college needs bigger sidewalks. Ours are huge (not to mention 6 feet deep so you can drive cars on them). But I definetly see how this could become a problem - it's bad enough for walkers, bikers, and cars to get along; now we're going to have conflicts between four main types of transportation.

      I personally wish it could enclose your whole body. Then I'd feel like a tank, although I'd be missing the live ammunitions.

      F-bacher
    • by Aldurn (187315)
      Actually, the Segway was designed to address this very problem. It is 18 inches (about 46 centimeters, for you rest-of-the-world folk) wide, which is about the same size as the length of your collar from shoulder-to-shoulder.

      So in reality, even while riding the Segway, you're still as wide as you would be walking.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    at toll free 800-544-3746 or local 818-882-2878. Call them and find out the details. :-)

    It even has a feature where you can key in your ZIP code and it will give you the nearest dealer, and ETA for shipment (avg. 6 months or so). You can also call to be put on their mailing list.
  • Broken article link (Score:3, Informative)

    by alexburke (119254) <slashdotmail@NOspAM.alexburke.ca> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:12PM (#3413040)
    This one [washingtonpost.com] should work better.
  • Safety & crowding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Rolling Blackout (556170) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:12PM (#3413045)
    Well, the article mentions this a bit, but I was thinking:

    Aren't some sidewalks (NYC, SF) crowded and dangerous enough as it is, as far as bumping into people and such?
    Imagine making those everyday collisions with fellow 'pedestrians' when one of you is moving at twelve and a half miles an hour. I foresee dislocations, damaged merchandise, and god forbid one of these cops happens to do one of those fruit stand smash-ups so popular in the film industry.
    I'm all for a new, efficient means of transport, but these things need their own lanes of travel, like some cities have provided for bicyclists.

    • <sick humour>You're right! Can you imagine the damage 19 suicide Segway-riding terrorists could do smacking into a pedestrian?</sick humour>

      Seriously, though, I can see these as useful for the mobility-impaired who can stand, for riding around in huge warehouses, and for moving over difficult terrain. But as fellow /.ers have pointed out, a bicycle is a lot cheaper than $5,000. Want a smaller footprint? Try a unicycle [unicycling.org].

  • In my hometown, and older woman was killed when hit by a mountain bike. In fact, this has happened multiple times. And mountain bikes are not allowed on the sidewalk. Segways are heavier and faster than mountain bikes, this just seems really dangerous to me.

    Websurfing: The Next Generation - StumbleUpon [stumbleupon.com]
    • by NanoGator (522640) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:20PM (#3413094) Homepage Journal
      They seem dangerous to me too, but not as dangerous as moutain bikes. For one thing, this seems more like a 'stop and go' vehicle as opposed to a 'go and prepare to slow down' vehicle like a mountain bike. Slowing down for a turn, for example, is no big deal. The Segway can just pivot, unlike a bike.

      Being electrical vs. pedaled means that somebody piloting one of these machines is less likely to value their constant speed. A bicyclist has to start pedalling again after slowing down to make up for lost momentum. I think this is the cause of some unnecessarily risks/maneuvers.

      Again, I'm not saying that it's totally safe, I'm just saying it's different enough that it's possible that it'd be allowed. Personally, though, I think sidewalk travel with these devices should be capped to roughly the speed of soembody walking past. If they were to implant the proper indicator on the housing, one could be fined for going too fast on a sidewalk. (i.e. put a light that turns on when the device goes faster than x mph.)
      • I saw one today... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SharpNose (132636)
        ...at an auto show in Atlanta. I only caught the tail end of the presentation and wasn't able to hear the fellow talking, but I have to say that it was an astonishing sight - FINALLY something to really make me think that I'm in the 21st century. From the outside, it really appeared as though the Segway was reading the driver's mind. He also had a little rig set up - imagine a 2" cube with a steep ramp up to one side and another on an adjacent side. He rode it up one ramp (that it did not change attitude in the transition was uncanny to watch), pivoted it to the left, and rode it down the other side.

        I am not going to say that this is the answer to all our prayers, but I don't believe that these things are just going to fade away, either.

        I can say with confidence that we're going to need sidewalks. Lots of sidewalks. Wide ones. And improved electricity generation and distribution.
    • All modes of transportation have dangers. I mean, how many people are killed by automobiles every day? The real question for society is: are we better off with or without fast and convenient transportation? So far we have already answered with, and I expect that to continue.
  • by naoursla (99850) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:13PM (#3413050) Homepage Journal
    As I understand it, you move forward by leaning foward. The segway moves forward to stay underneath you which keeps you from falling over. Like walking, it is a controlled fall. But there is also a built in speed limit, so if you lean forward too far (trying to go faster) the Segway would not be able to keep up and you would keep leaning farther until your face meets the sidewalk (presumably while going around 12 mph). Does anyone know what keeps it from doing this?
    • As I understand it, gyroscopes. As you push forward on the handle-thingy, the Segway pushes back, powered by the internal gyroscopes. I don't have any info on the amount of force involved; presumably, if your objective is to knock the thing over, you'll find a way to do it.
      • by seanadams.com (463190) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @09:32PM (#3413457) Homepage
        the Segway pushes back, powered by the internal gyroscopes

        This is wrong. It's the WHEELS that move the segway and keep it upright.

        The gyroscopes are tiny little sensors that detect rotational accelleration. To understand this concept, imagine a toy gyroscope - the kind enclosed in with a wire frame. As you rotate the frame around the axle, the wheel inside continues to spin at the same speed. If you were to continually measure the speed of the wheel relative to the frame, you can determine which way the frame is turning and how fast.

        It's not like the gyroscopic action of a motorcycle wheel keeping you upright. If that were the case, segway would have to be incredibly big, heavy, and power consuming.

        The gyros in the segway are no doubt piezoelectric - I'm not sure exactly how those work, but it's the same basic idea. They're about 1 cubic inch in size.
    • by emmons (94632) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:26PM (#3413142) Homepage
      It senses you trying to do it the first time and lets you fall flat on your face. After you do it once the problem mysteriously goes away. (for some people it takes more than once though- these special cases are called "morons")
      • Wow, thats interesting. I guess I just assumed that it you threw yourself at the ground fast and hard enough using this, you had a better chance of missing it. Seemed like a good way to learn how to fly. Hey, it worked for Arthur Dent.
    • The segway moves forward to stay underneath you which keeps you from falling over. Like walking, it is a controlled fall.

      Actually, what you do when you fall is just "miss" the ground. At that point you just sort of take off and start to fly...but don't think about it too much.

      Oh, and remember to bring a towel ;)
    • by perky (106880) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @09:48PM (#3413517)
      I've heard about this invention called the bicycle. As I understand it, you steer by leaning to the left or the right. The bicycle tilts sideways to stay underneath you which keeps you from falling over. Like walking, it is a controlled fall. But naturally the turning radius is limited, so if you lean too far (trying to turn faster) the bicycle would not be able to keep up and you would keep leaning farther until your face meets the sidewalk. Does anyone know what keeps it from doing this?

    • It probably gives a tiny spurt of speed, just enough to lean you back the other way, then slows you down. That way you could never sustain a speed above 12 MPH. In fact it could keep your center of gravity from ever travelling faster than 12 MPH if it was careful.
  • ...sidewalks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by magicslax (532351) <frank_salimNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:13PM (#3413052)

    In states that haven't explicitly allowed these bugges on the sidewalks, can you use them in bikelanes? What conditions does your vehicle need to meet to be a bike? How about a moped or something of that nature- open, wheeled, anything else?

    • In states that haven't explicitly allowed these bugges on the sidewalks, can you use them in bikelanes? What conditions does your vehicle need to meet to be a bike? How about a moped or something of that nature- open, wheeled, anything else?

      Bike lanes (as opposed to bike/multi-use paths, which are separated from the road) are a part of the road, and the rules that apply are the same as the rules of the road. Bikes can ride on them essentially because they have the already have the right to use roads. For example, Michigan law says: "Every person riding a bicycle or moped upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature do not have applications."

      Here's what I believe to be the definition of a bike in Michigan law: ""Bicycle" means a device propelled by human power upon which a person may ride, having either 2 or 3 wheels in a tandem or tricycle arrangement, all of which are over 14 inches in diameter." I believe other state law is similar. Doesn't sound like a Segway.

      And a moped: ""Moped" means a 2- or 3-wheeled vehicle which is equipped with a motor that does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement, produces 2.0 brake horsepower or less, and cannot propel the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on a level surface. The power drive system shall not require the operator to shift gears." Don't ask me.

      The sensible thing to do would be to put Segways on the road--vehicles with significant stopping distances need to ride traffic rules to operate safely--but I guess the Segway people know that too many Americans have been brainwashed into believing that you can't be safe on a road without being surrounded by some kind of tank. So they have to sell the Segway as a toy for the sidewalk. Sad.

      The truly sad thing, of course, is that we already have the perfect personal vehicle---bicycle technology is cheaper, more mature, and more efficient than this stupid Segway. But no-one sees this because they're convinced that bicycles are just toys to be ridden for fun on weekends, and because they're convinced (contrary to any evidence I've seen, and to my own experience) that it's dreadfully dangerous to actually use a bicycle on a road as real transportation.

      --Bruce Fields

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:13PM (#3413053) Homepage
    But I like this one the best:
    "...even traveling at 12.5 miles an hour, the virtual laws of physics say they won't be able to stop on a dime."
    Could someone who knows virtual physics tell me which law relates mass, velocity, and dimes?
  • by jimmcq (88033) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:14PM (#3413056) Journal
    Popular Science also has an article [popsci.com] that has a mini-interview with one of the mail carriers who put Segway through a real-life test for 30 days.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:14PM (#3413057) Homepage
    Here we have a machine that goes 12MPH, about the speed of a bike. Perhaps we should be riding these in the bike lane, not on the sidewalk.


    (and before anyone whines about their city not having enough bike lanes... here is yet another incentive to add some)

    • Just because you can go 12 MPH, doesn't mean you have to go 12 MPH. Since people are capable of running 12 MPH, does that mean that people should be limited to the bike lanes as well?

      The difference between these things and a bike is that these are controlled very similarly to walking. You lean to go forward and to stop. That means that there is a natural tendency to go with the flow of walking traffic.

    • 12MPH is slow for a bicycle. I'm no Lance Armstrong, but I *average* 13MPH INCLUDING STOPS on my 4 mile ride home. Cruising speed on the flat part of the route for me is around 18 to 20 and there are folks riding who pass me.
    • I average 25km/hour (about 16MPH) on my bike ride to/from work. I hit 35km on straight-aways, and 50+ if I'm heading downhill. It's awkward enough passing other cyclists and worrying about cars veering into the bike lane (when there is a bike lane).

      Plus I don't think these machines are maneuverable enough to be on the road (bike lane or no bike lane).
  • by alouts (446764) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:15PM (#3413062)
    After all the "No Skateboarding/Bicycling/Rollerskating" signs I have seen around various towns, why would so many cities specifically allow these things on sidewalks by passing laws saying so?

    Is it all just a load of local lobbyists pressing the city councils? It seems to me like there's enough hype/marketing here to choke a whole herd of horses.

  • by Mad Bad Rabbit (539142) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:16PM (#3413066)
    Anyone else suspect this'll become a new Xtr3me Sp0rt,
    as soon as Segway prices drop to the $300 range ?
  • "These weigh 69 to 95 pounds, depending on the model, can carry a person up to 250 pounds plus cargo up to 75 pounds. With that much mass, even traveling at 12.5 miles an hour, the virtual laws of physics say they won't be able to stop on a dime."

    Apparantly, we've been scammed by educators everywhere.
  • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate@gQUOTEmail.com minus punct> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:19PM (#3413085)
    I'm a Mech-E student at the University of New Hampshire, just 40 minutes from Segway's and DEKA's headquarters, and we just had a demo here the other day by some of the engineers who work on it.

    I must say, I was impressed.

    First, if you're riding a segway at it's top speed of about 14 MPH, you can stop in about 15 feet- a runner going that fast takes about 20 feet to stop.

    Second, the junior engineer there, a year out of UNH, made a point of running over the senior engineers toes many times. No injury, he was walking around fine.

    Third, he also made a point of running into the senior engineer a number of times. Getting hit by one of those things is no worse then getting hit by someone who weighs 75 pounds more then you do.

    It turns on a dime, stops and starts quick, is highly manuevarable, and very easy to use- they let a couple of my proffessors check it out. I wouldn't have any problem sharing a sidewalk with it. It has a number of stopping, size, and manuvering advantages over roller skates and bicycles, wich aren't allowed on most sidewalks.

    That being said, it looks like an amusing toy with some very good aplications, but I don't think it's going to revolutionize transportation outside of a few circles.
    • by bfields (66644) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @09:24PM (#3413420) Homepage
      First, if you're riding a segway at it's top speed of about 14 MPH, you can stop in about 15 feet

      On a street, where you have rules about right-of-way, and where you can count on people to *look* before they enter traffic, that sort of stopping distance is fine. On a sidewalk, where anyone in front of you can change direction on a dime, where people can appear from corners or doorway with no warning, it's a disaster.

      a runner going that fast takes about 20 feet to stop.

      14 mph is about a 4-minute mile, right? Isn't that pretty close to a flat-out sprint for the mortals among us? Would you really feel safe sprinting on a city sidewalk on a regular basis?

      Getting hit by one of those things is no worse then getting hit by someone who weighs 75 pounds more then you.

      Actually, getting hit by a runner 75 pounds heavier than me who sounds extremely unpleasant. Not something I would want to be happening on a regular basis on the sidewalks in my town; would you?

      Collisions with motor vehicles are also going to be a problem: note that you do *not* escape conflicts with cars by riding on the sidewalk. Instead, every driveway and intersection represents a potential conflict with a motorist, and motorists are *not* going to be looking out for people moving at high speeds on the sidewalk. (Think about where you look when you pull into or out of your driveway--would you see someone approaching from the wrong direction on the sidewalk in time to avoid a collision?) This is the reason that, by some estimates, sidewalk cyclists have double the accident rates of road cyclists. The same principles apply to segway users.

      Sounds like the Segway people have a pretty good line; perhaps I shouldn't be so amazed that they're getting away with buying this kind of legislation. But they really need some opposition. Here's one summary of the issue from the point of view of pedestrian advocates [americawalks.org].

      --Bruce Fields

      • Would you really feel safe sprinting on a city sidewalk on a regular basis?

        You, along with half the other posters to this story, seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that Segways have only two speeds: 0 MPH and 14+ MPH.

        That's not my understanding.

        Any special reason why you're convinced that lots of Segway riders will be suicidal enough to do 14 MPH on a crowded sidewalk? I mean, do you see people roaring down your neighborhood streets at their car's top speed? No? Well, then it won't be a major issue with Segways, either. Most people know when they're going too fast for conditions, regardless of the vehicle.
        • It is very difficult to run at 14 m per hour. Most people just cant do it, and the ones that can cannot do it on a regular basis. But driving a sageway at 14 miles per hour is as easy as leaning forward i presume. You say most people have good judgement and wont do it. But then again if we could rely on other people's good judgement we wouldnt have speeding laws. Also 14 miles per hour is not that fast for someone that is used to riding in a car and i am sure everyone will think they can handle it.
        • Any special reason why you're convinced that lots of Segway riders will be suicidal enough to do 14 MPH on a crowded sidewalk?

          Yes; go to any university town and watch the students on bicycles. They're doing those kinds of speeds and faster, on crowded sidewalks. This is the reason that some cities ban cycling on the sidewalks downtown. I agree, you'd think the cyclists would be smarter than that, but a bicycle is seductive--it's *hard* to slow down to wobble along at a walking pace when you know you could be gliding along at 15+ mph.

          I think they must be convinced somehow that nothing too bad can happen to them, no matter how they ride, as long as they stay on the sidewalk--until the day when they find themselves flying across the hood of a car driven by someone who (not suprisingly) didn't see them while making a left turn across a crosswalk, at which point their life flashes before their eyes, and they ditch cycling, go buy an SUV, and live the rest of their life encased in a big steel security blanket.

          Somehow I think we've all accepted this idea that "sidewalk == safe" and "road == dangerous" and in doing so we've lost our ability to reason sensibly about traffic safety.

          --Bruce Fields

          • Yeah, SUVs sure are safe... Makes perfect since. Just a note to any idiots out there who think so, nothing could be further from the truth. A damn SUV ran a red light in front of me going at a pretty normal speed, hit a car, the car was fine, but the damn SUV flipped over, and the passenger fell head first into the asphalt (they had the sunroof open and he was wearing no seatbelt, guess he felt the SUV was safe). He was as good as dead from then, and technically died in the ambulance. He was 18 years old too... I never want to see antyhing like that again, and at that moment was sure I definitely would never get a SUV. Of course, then again he probably could have walked away from the accident had he only worn his seatbelt, the driver for example walked away... A damn shame, but when a vehicle can flip as easily as a SUV, all bets are off with regards to safety.
    • by ndinsil (454614) on Friday April 26, 2002 @12:41AM (#3414151)
      First, if you're riding a segway at it's top speed of about 14 MPH, you can stop in about 15 feet- a runner going that fast takes about 20 feet to stop.

      I'm curious as to where you get that "20 feet" number. Curious enough, in fact, to step outside for a quick drill... From a speed of around 14 MPH (about a 16 second 100 pace) I stopped in 5 feet. Of course, I knew when I was going to stop so reaction time didn't come into play, but assuming a moderately slow reaction time (0.2 seconds) at that speed that only adds 4 feet. To be sure, stopping that quickly puts some undesirable stress on a person's legs, but in a panic-stop situation that's not an issue. So don't dismiss the human body too quickly.

  • I don't want to come off as a morbid bastard, but how well protected is a rider during a crash? I mean, if the Segway is controlled with gyros that sense little weight shifts of the rider, in a crash, wouldn't the rider toppling off cause a shift in balance and accidentally cause the thing to tip over the wrong way? And how well do the pieces of the machine attach together -- in a head-on collision, are we supposed to expect the riders to kiss in mid-air, fall flat on their asses with the scooter toppling on them afterwards, or do they just get mercifully impaled by the handle bars? Why are we, as the public, and potentially stupid customers, not informed of matters of such importance, and more specifically, why are there no tutorials on doing donuts with Segways?
  • "Why are Segways different from bikes, Rollerblades and scooters, which are not permitted on sidewalks in many cities?"

    And that's why they belong on the bicycle-lane!!!

    What do you mean, your cities don't have bicycle-lanes? Maybe the problem isn't "Get laws passed for segfaults on sidewalks", but it should be "how to get more bicycle lanes!"?

    Edwin
    • by Quietust (205670) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @10:19PM (#3413629) Homepage
      "Get laws passed for segfaults on sidewalks"
      Freudian slip?
  • Vaporware (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phreak404 (241139)
    Doesn't seem to be a little soon to be approving laws and such for a device that hasn't even really taken off? Its got great hype, yes, but consumers aren't about to buy one, not at its current price. It seems to me this is jumping the gun.
  • "Why are Segways different from bikes, Rollerblades and scooters, which are not permitted on sidewalks in many cities?"
    Good point. This thing is pretty cool, but "cool" and $1.25 will buy you a cup of coffee. The Segway would work amazingly well where I'm from (Iowa). Because often things are not packed as densely in smaller cities and there are fewer people on the sidewalks. It's tough to just walk in a big city during the busy times of the day. I can't help be see Segways as nothing but the source of frustration for both the rider and the people around. Still, I agree it's a good step forward. I hope they make moves so that they can be used on the many bike trails that exist in major metropolitan areas.

    I'm glad Slashdot is talking about these topics lately. (Vegas: Monorails v. Gridlock [slashdot.org]) Transportation is amazingly important and will become much more so. (How many people spend more than an hour a day just going to and from work?!)
  • by Argyle (25623) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @08:31PM (#3413169) Homepage Journal
    My company had a demo of the Segway HT and I got to ride one. Quite fun and easy.

    I did however, crash the Segway [pusateri.org] and almost break it.

    The link leads to a page with a 3MB Quicktime movie of the incident.
    • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate@gQUOTEmail.com minus punct> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @09:09PM (#3413349)
      You did not almost break it. You didn't even come close. You can throw the thing down a flight of stairs and it'll work fine.

      In addition to their brutal in house testing, they gave the segway to some army special forces evaluation guys, and had them beat the shit out of it.

      They couldn't break it. And it turns out, the in-house brutalizing Segway did before releasing it was more brutal then the army dished out.

      (From a recent visit by segway engineers to my school)
    • It doesn't look like the crash was particularly high impact (not that I'd expect much at such low speeds). And this nearly broke it? Somehow I wonder how well this thing will handle in the real world. You can crash a bike or a skateboard at much higher rates and still have them fully useable a few seconds later. And at much lower cost. One thing about the real world is that objects get banged up a lot more in it.
  • My mom, not being an engineer or anything said something I thought was funny, "If it basically goes whichever way you think it to, what if you think 'I'm gonna fall down!'"
  • I've seen elderly people riding around in scooters or motorized wheelchairs because they _had_ to... If they try to ban segways things from sidewalks, they'd also have to ban legitimate sidewalk vehicles such as these. And I've seen some of those motorized wheelchairs really bootin' it too... definitely faster than 12MPH.
  • Americans will become even more obese as they excercise even less. People will soon be saying, "Let's ginger on down to McD's and get a Mac".

    And yes, we need more bike lanes.
  • As it currently stands (no pun intended, the Segway's weight of 65 pounds is just a bit too much for what it does. Also, the Segway can't be collapsed so it fits in smaller spaces.

    I think a company like Dahon (who specializes in collapsible bicycles) should work with Dean Kamen to design a scooter with Segway technology that can be easily collapsed into a small carrying package and also weigh at most 28-30 pounds. Something like that would sell like ice cream in summer, in my opinion.
  • I had the opportunity to ride the Segway at the TED conference in Monterey a few months ago, and was quite impressed. It feels a bit like water skiing; takes a minute to get your "sea legs," then it's completely intuitive. Right now, there are no "gears"; you just lean forward or backward and it goes. This seemed to be a bit of a problem getting on and off the thing; I'd like to see a "Neutral" gear, where it tries to stay as motionless as possible, balancing upright. In fact, in this mode, a person could probably do a handstand on the handlebars and it would continue to balance itself!! (Cirque du Soleil, anyone?)

    Also, perhaps separate "Drive" and "Reverse" modes might be called for, where it goes only forwards or only backwards (unless needed for balancing). And currently, a hard rotational twist at high speed will flip the thing. There must be some way to detect radial acceleration and ease up when it gets to a dangerous point... I understand the need for linear response, like a car steering wheel has, but note that a car is more likely to skid (not flip) if you turn the wheel a little too hard. (I don't think the Segway has enough juice to skid, anyway... and its center of gravity is way too high.) Some sort of governor that kicks in at high radial acceleration and avoids flipping would be a welcome improvement.

    Just my two cents... I still want one! (well, perhaps when it comes down to $1000... ;-)
  • What do you want to know? They're bulky, they move quickly (10+ MPH) and they weigh 80 pounds. You do the math.
    There's a good reason that bicycles and skateboards aren't allowed on a goodly portion of sidewalks: they move at a different rate than your average walker.
  • I dunno... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Telecommando (513768)
    I mean, the Segway is neat and all that, but outside of the "Wow, cool!" factor, is there any part of it's design that really screams, "Look! I'm so much better/cheaper/more efficient than a conventional (2 wheels, front and back) motorized scooter?"

    If there is, I don't see it. It's neat, sure. But at root it's just an electric scooter. It could easily be replaced by an 3-wheeled, electric cart, motorized skateboard, electric bike or powered roller skates; all of which would be a lot cheaper to produce.

    I would think it would be better to change the laws to allow all small motorized vehicles, 2, 3 & 4 wheels, on the sidewalks and bike paths.

    I haven't seen the laws that were passed, but doesn't it seem odd to pass a law just to help a single product achieve market share? Surely it's vague enough that other small scooters would be allowed rather than just the Segway. If laws are changed just so one guy can make money, I want one changed for me, too. ;-)

    It seems like the only thing that the Segway does that other scooters don't (outside of the self balancing bit), is put money in Kamen's pocket.

    Maybe I'm just in a bad mood, it's been a long day.
  • What a load. The government again votes for the corporation over the good of the people.

    Sure everone thinks these are neat, but so what? The sidewalk is for people on foot. Time and time again they have rejected the idea of letting skaters, skate board, bikes, and so on, on public sidewalks. Why? Because they interfere with people trying to walk on them. Now, there's a product that will make lots of money if the law is changed. Surprise, surprise, not only do the pass the law that contradicts all sorts of previous decisions, but they put in an order for several at the highest prices they will ever see.

    Today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has scheduled a vote on a measure that would allow the Segway to be used on sidewalks and bike paths built with federal funds -- as long as local authorities agree.

    Damn, I hope they don't agree. The sidewalks are not roads. Don't drive on them.

    If this law passes, you've got precident to drive your motorcycle on the sidewalk as well. It's no wider than a segway, and it can be limited to 25MPH. Thats 24MPH faster than rush hour in NY.
    Can anyone justify this ruling?

  • They cost a whole lot of money, they take something like 5 hours to recharge, they're not all that fast, and you can't really cary anything more than a briefcase on them. I can see how it's good for the environment, but it's not like they're replacing cars; more than likely they're replacing feet and bikes. What are some of the benefits to springing all that dough on a Segway?
  • Sinclair C5 (Score:5, Funny)

    by gwernol (167574) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @09:50PM (#3413522)
    Here is the spiritual predecessor of the Segway, the Sinclair C5 [sinclairc5.co.uk]. First sold in January 1985 this one-person electric vehicle cost less than $500 and was still an absolute commercial disaster.

    Although superficially very different, the C5 and the Segway try to solve similar problems of personal mobility without being a car or motorbike. The Segway is undoubtably more advanced (and several times the price) but like the C5 is: small (one person, no luggage), exposed, slow and makes you look like a dork.

    I'm not sure I see why the Segway won't go the same way as the C5. I certainly wouldn't buy any stock in Segway.
  • by bluelarva (185170) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @09:57PM (#3413551)
    get run over by a car while riding on segway.

    "overclock" it to do 60 mph.

    put a really large tires and ride over other segway crushing it.

    dissect it and puts it's pictures of it's guts online and get slashdotted.

    have their segway malfunction and end up doing a cartwheel on a steep sidewalk.

    do all sort of cool tricks with it like a freestyle bike.

    fall off the thing and get hurt and decides to sue Dean Kamen.

    ride segway while drunk as a skunk and get charged with DWI.

    have their segway run out of battery on the side of the road and have to call AAA to tow it.

    hit a pedestrian.

    hit a pedestrian and run off.

    have their segway tiretracks link them to a crime they committed.

    find their segway minus wheels sitting on concrete blocks on the side of the road.

    steal it.

    get caught trying to steal it.

    track down a stolen segway by using hidden GPS.

    strap a jet rocket and attempt to break segway land speed record.

    ----
    jk
  • by zentec (204030)

    Think of it, not too long ago this mystery device proclaimed to be the revolution of personal transportation was unveiled. The press ate it up!
    For months all you heard about was "what's Ginger?" Kamen's true genius is marketing.

    Now you're seeing the benefit of that pre-emptive strike on the public. People are pumped about this and they've only seen it in pictures.

  • NYPOST.COM Business:
    NYC HALTS NEW SCOOTER By DOUGLAS WIGHT and FRANKIE ENDOZIEN
    Tue Dec 4 09:41:06 2001

    Matt Burns, a spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles, said: "From my understanding, it is designed for sidewalk use, and that would be a violation of vehicular traffic law since you cannot have motorized vehicles on the sidewalk."

    Anyone caught using a Segway on the sidewalk would be ticketed, he said.
  • Apparently, the taxpayers are paying the salery of a government employee who is 'loaned' to DEKA to make suggestions about the segway.

    Why are we subsidising them? I don't want my tax money going to Dean Kamen.

    From the WP article:

    Segway asked the CPSC to review the scooter, and the agency suggested that the handlebars, which were turned up, be reversed so they wouldn't catch the straps of women's purses. It also urged Segway to enclose the wheels so toes and fingers couldn't be caught in the spokes. Both were done.

    Ronald Medford, the staff member who made these suggestions, has taken a government-approved sabbatical to work for Kamen's firm, DEKA Research & Development Corp., which created Segway. Medford is the "in-house critic and adviser, having nothing to do with sales and marketing, but only telling us what to do to make products safe," said Gary Bridge, Segway's senior vice president of marketing.

    To avoid conflict of interest, Bridge said, the government continues to pay Medford's salary ($138,200 a year) and Medford has promised to recuse himself from any product decisions involving DEKA and Segway when he returns to the CPSC later this year.

  • by Mandelbrute (308591) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @10:29PM (#3413669)
    From the article:
    Ronald Medford, the staff member who made these suggestions, has taken a government-approved sabbatical to work for Kamen's firm, DEKA Research & Development Corp., which created Segway. Medford is the "in-house critic and adviser, having nothing to do with sales and marketing, but only telling us what to do to make products safe," said Gary Bridge, Segway's senior vice president of marketing. To avoid conflict of interest, Bridge said, the government continues to pay Medford's salary ($138,200 a year) and Medford has promised to recuse himself from any product decisions involving DEKA and Segway when he returns to the CPSC later this year.
    So he worked on the approval process, is now working exclusively on the product he approved, and the government (not the company he is working for) is paying his salary. Does anyone else have problems with this? In a lot of places something like this would be looked at carefully to see whether there were job offers during the approval process or other signs of bribery (with the government being stupid enough to pay the bribe). He's not being paid to do his job, he's being paid to be a DEKA employee (his orders longer come from the government)- so DEKA should pay for him.
  • They are planning to release a much cheaper "educational" version of the Segway, as they realize that it's too expensive for the consumer market.

    It's called feet.

    Apparently, rather than the gyroscopes, you would have a different kind of engine powered by "anti-laziness" energy with a special "work-->physical fitness" converter.

    Man is it really starting to feel like the 21st century!!
  • pretty sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by j09824 (572485) on Friday April 26, 2002 @12:22AM (#3414081)
    I find this pretty sad. The Segway is a neat gizmo, but it doesn't look like very attractive transportation. Bicycles and electrically assisted bicycles are faster, can be used on the road, and allow you to engage in some level of physical activity. Scooters (like the Vespa or Honda) have a much greater range and are about half the price, and they are mature and low-tech. Or you can get a variety of electric scooters, which are quiet and faster as well. The Segway, in contrast, is slow, can't be used on roads, provides no opportunity for exercise, has limited range, and is quite expensive. And, as the article points out, is probably quite dangerous on sidewalks.

    Electrically assisted bicycles like this [electricbetterbikes.com] are in a legal limbo: you can't legally use them on bike paths in many places, you can't ride them as fast as a bicycle, and some variants require motorcycle licenses. Yet, they are suitable and highly efficient for travel and commuting.

    Similarly, innovative scooters like the BMW C1 (a scooter with a secure passenger cell) fail to get approval in the US, even though they passed lots of safety and real-world tests in Europe.

    Yet, a high-tech gizmo like the Segway just breezes through regulatory approvals, probably based on the excellent marketing and celebrity endorsements behind it. First, drivers have to engage in an arms-race with SUVs on the road; will pedestrians now all have to upgrade to Segways in order to use sidewalks safely?

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