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December 2, 2001
6:47 PM   Subscribe

'It', or 'Ginger' is finally here. While official announcements will be made tomorrow morning, there are a few first looks around the web. Officially named Segway, and overhyped for a really long time, it probably be as huge as everyone has said, but looks like it definately could make things interesting.
posted by christian (226 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I want one. I want one. I want one. Think I want one? :-)
posted by benjh at 6:50 PM on December 2, 2001


Shall we all guess at the price and see who gets closest? Somehow, I don't think it's gonna be $99.99.
posted by rushmc at 6:52 PM on December 2, 2001


I was really, really hoping for something more exciting. You know, "Jetsons"-type vehicles or something (and the accompanying bubbly-whirring-noise!). And the initial pricetag ($3,000) that I read about earlier today sure ain't gonna make me run out & buy one. Question: do you figure that there will be laws passed requiring users of Ginger/IT to wear helmets? Will Ginger-riders be required to have insurance? Will dealerships spring up, complete with service departments? So many questions...
posted by davidmsc at 6:52 PM on December 2, 2001


I hope santa reads MeFi! I know plenty of elves that do.
posted by shoepal at 6:53 PM on December 2, 2001


$3,000? Oh never mind, I'll walk.
posted by benjh at 6:53 PM on December 2, 2001


I am completeley underwhelmed.
posted by phalkin at 6:54 PM on December 2, 2001


The $3,000 per Ginger figure was seen on Drudge. You be the judge of the accuracy.
posted by davidmsc at 6:54 PM on December 2, 2001


It will be as revolutionary as the Sinclair C5.
posted by SiW at 6:55 PM on December 2, 2001


Look! It's a scooter, only dumber looking, more complicated, and (no doubt) much more expensive.

My life is feeling changed already.

Speaking of IT, did anyone else see the South Park episode The Entity? Do you think IT will also be "better than dealing with the airlines"?
posted by rusty at 6:59 PM on December 2, 2001


For those of us who just dislike cars, it would be a great thing. Might make those pedestrian cities a reality.
posted by benjh at 6:59 PM on December 2, 2001


I am completeley underwhelmed.

Tell me about it. While I agree that it would be great to have an all pedestrian city, I would dump my car in a second if I could, it would be near impossible with our current infrastructure (leastways, here in SoCal). Watch for Segway to get buried by car manufacturers with bad press.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:03 PM on December 2, 2001


You mean they're not going to offer a stretch Segway?

Segway, Segway, you say? Or was that Segue?
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:07 PM on December 2, 2001


NYTimes link with photo of Dean Kamen astride the Segway. And the article also quotes the $3000 price tag. Lots more at Yahoo
posted by xiffix at 7:08 PM on December 2, 2001


David: I know! It's 2001, where the hell's my hovercar? And my robot butler, damnit.

If it were cheap(ish) ie: not $3000, I think I'd seriously consider getting one. As for widespread use, I think too many people would be too concerned about beeing seen as dorky for flitting about on these things.
That's before even getting into the logistics of actually using one. Foot traffic is some areas would make it difficult to say the least, and I don't think I'd look forward to trying to get one in car traffic, not to mention the inevitable run in with the Pothole of Death. I don't care how good those gyros are, you're going down.
posted by Su at 7:10 PM on December 2, 2001


This is a $3,000, 65lb useless mechanical device with excellent PR. Absurd.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2001


I just read the description of the directional control. What if something behind you suddenly catches your attention, and you whip around to look for a second?
posted by Su at 7:12 PM on December 2, 2001


Well that was annoying.... Cute but too expensive, limited uses in todays society.
posted by madmanz123 at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2001


I think I'd like to get one, but I'm afraid the local kids would beat me up and take it.

And besides, with a scooter that small, there's nowhere to airbrush skulls and flames.
posted by Jairus at 7:17 PM on December 2, 2001


I'm just glad it doesn't have one of those anal probes for a seat, rusty. That southpark was a great episode, in terms of moral of the story, but the anal seat and oral control was a bit much. ...takes those off and i'd rather have that 'it' than the real 'it'.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:19 PM on December 2, 2001


According to the NYT article, it can go a whopping 15 miles on a six-hour charge. Forget about any "See the U.S.A. on Your Segway!" commercials.
posted by gimonca at 7:19 PM on December 2, 2001


I'm with you Su. Think forward and you go forward? All I would be able to think when getting on one is "I am going to bust my ass". How do the sensors interpret that?
posted by samuelad at 7:20 PM on December 2, 2001


It's all because those bastards won't produce the Tesla Engine! FREE ENERGY, DAMN YOUR EYES!!!
posted by solistrato at 7:21 PM on December 2, 2001


And another thing. How the Hell are you supposed to drive one of those things and use a cell phone?
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:23 PM on December 2, 2001


Top speed is 12mph? How is that going to change the way cities are built?

This seems like those motorized scooters I see guys riding every now and then, the ones with the tiny lawn mower type engines. This appears to be simply a quieter, better designed version. There are probably some engineering breakthroughs a-plenty in the design, but the idea and product leave me completely underwhelmed.
posted by mathowie at 7:27 PM on December 2, 2001


Another article on Time's site. I particularly like the part about Andy Grove's reaction.
posted by pjdoland at 7:30 PM on December 2, 2001


Add two more wheels, a roof, some seats, and a steering wheel and you'd have a half-assed golf cart.
posted by groundhog at 7:36 PM on December 2, 2001


I don't quite get the business use: how much can a mailman/Fed-Ex gal carry on their back? Even that kind of use is hyped.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:38 PM on December 2, 2001


OK, its not super/save the world cool. . ..its not just a scooter. If you ever ride it, regardless of whether or not you like it now, you will say "that *is* cool..." I don't know if I want one, but I want to ride one.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2001


I don't quite get the business use: how much can a mailman/Fed-Ex gal carry on their back? Even that kind of use is hyped.

and wouldn't the extra weight throw their balance off?
posted by mcsweetie at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2001


I would love to ride one of these in the local Super Walmart.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:44 PM on December 2, 2001


How reassuring (from the Time link):
CHASSIS
...
Tested to withstand
7 tons of force--the
weight of 3 SUVs
posted by EngineBeak at 7:46 PM on December 2, 2001


I would think that it's biggest audience would be college students...

...Except for the price tag.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 7:48 PM on December 2, 2001


Um, aren't totally new products - especially anything technological - usually way too expensive for the average person at first? Would like to join the cynicism parade, but yelling about the price strikes me as a bit premature.
posted by raysmj at 7:52 PM on December 2, 2001


i want one thats got huge tires and a brushguard on it. :)
posted by jbelshaw at 7:53 PM on December 2, 2001


I already have a dorking looking 2 wheeled vehicle. I can reach speeds of 50 mph on it. Best of all, I don't need to plug in the engine over night, and fueling up is my idea of fun. I ride a bike, 5 times a week to and from work.

Why is this better than that again? I mean, I love technology, and I'm excited about Kamen's ideas but...

If I can't break 20 mph on it, I'll probably stick on my bike. Also, where do we think people will use these? On the street? I doubt it. Side walks? Hope Kamen has LOTS of liability insurance -- side walks are the most dangerous place to ride wheeled vehicles.
posted by daver at 7:54 PM on December 2, 2001


OK, its not super/save the world cool. . ..its not just a scooter. If you ever ride it, regardless of whether or not you like it now, you will say "that *is* cool..."

Great. Another device to make America even F A T T E R and W I D E R.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:56 PM on December 2, 2001


You got it, Paris. One more thought -- if the mega-corp I work at buys a fleet of these for building to building transportation, it'll save me about 2-3 hours of week of riding those damn shuttles. And I'm sure as hell not suiting up my bike for those trips. I say do it.
posted by daver at 8:00 PM on December 2, 2001


As for the big Postal Service trial next year, I guarantee there are dogs in my neighborhood that can run much faster than 12 miles per hour.
posted by apollo at 8:03 PM on December 2, 2001


Count me among the underwhelmed crowd - still, the steering mechanism is compelling. It'd be interesting to see the same technology applied to a traditional bicycle or some such.

Speaking of which, I'll take my $299 bike over this thing any day - it's still the most efficient and low emission form of locomotion on the planet.
posted by aladfar at 8:03 PM on December 2, 2001


I never heard such a rambling of selfish smack! The guy already said it was way overhyped, so cut him some slack. Also - he never said he was trying to change the world.. the MEDIA said that.

As for the mail-carriers.. not every mailman uses a mailtruck - some of them actually still walk their routes.

Lighten up, get over yourselves - and be happy that someone out there is trying to make the world a better place.
posted by matty at 8:08 PM on December 2, 2001


I'm looking forward to the Car and Driver review. They've done a number of articles in the past on alternative forms of transportation, and they tend to be well written. Favorites, which unfortunately aren't online included an aircraft carrier, and a riding lawn mower ("there's a fan on the bottom of this thing for no apparent reason - it slows the whole thing down and is likely a design defect.") Some that are online include a flying car, an airplane tug, the largest truck ever, and a neighborhood electric vehicle for when "when the trip is short and you´re too rich to walk." Ginger might compete with the vehicles in the last category, but I don't see any place to put a license plate on it.
posted by bragadocchio at 8:11 PM on December 2, 2001


Also - he never said he was trying to change the world.. the MEDIA said that

Wrong. He has stated on many occasions that he hopes the device alters the way city centers are designed, so they are more IT-friendly and completely free of cars.
posted by mathowie at 8:12 PM on December 2, 2001


Man! It's like a stairlift for pedestrians. There'll be droves of old people zooming around on these in a few years. Guess we could have fun trying to knock them onto their gyroscopically-stabilised asses.
posted by jiroczech at 8:13 PM on December 2, 2001


aladfar: Bicycles, while efficient and great for exercise, are potentially very dangerous. I have a renovated purple roadster, from the '70s, new chrome fenders and all - love it to tears. But they can be dangerous (I know from experience, thanks), and I won't take them for more than very short distances in a city environment, and on streets I already know well. Very few cities and towns in America have bike routes, and even then routes won't take you everywhere you need to go.
posted by raysmj at 8:13 PM on December 2, 2001


All this discussion reminds me of what people said when they heard about the iPod...
posted by websavvy at 8:17 PM on December 2, 2001


Semantics, mathowie... point is that everyone seems in a rush to tear this thing to shreds. A couple of articles have been posted about it, and suddenly everyone is a first-impression expert.

Except for a couple of insiders and a reporter, nobody's seen one, or even tried one out for that matter. That includes everyone on this site that I've read from so far... who knows who good (or awful) it really is yet?

Quit being so negative, people!
posted by matty at 8:19 PM on December 2, 2001


I think Jiroczech has hit on the primary early market for Segway: for people with limited mobility but who don't want the indignity, weight and expense of a sit-down, the device is a pretty good solution. My father, for example, has had seven joint replacements below his waist (arthritis: both ankles; both knees; both hips, one of them twice.) He can stand fine. He can walk fine... but slowly, and has problems if he's going more than a few hundred yards. I can see him with one of these in the boot of his car.
posted by Hogshead at 8:30 PM on December 2, 2001


It seems as though the folks who have tried it are smitten with the gyro's, but in a practical setting this thing seems WAY too dangerous. This is a products liability nightmare.
posted by anathema at 8:32 PM on December 2, 2001


Think about future applications! The gyroscope technology alone is amazing. It could keep Ford Explorers from rolling over, cool toys will come from this, and (though not really that important) it could be used to help paraplegics walk.
posted by Mick at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2001


From the Time article:

"Kamen's vehicles include a Hummer, a Porsche and two helicopters..."

Think he uses any of those to "haul his 150-lb. ass around town"?

Naah.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2001


If it was faster and cheaper, it'd be revolutionary. Then it'd change cities.

For now, my bike can go faster; and I have no need for one.
posted by Theiform at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2001


Someone asked how this will change the way cities are built... I'm sure (and I hope) it won't change the way cities are built at all. At 12 miles per hour, who's going to be doing any serious travelling on these things? On the sidewalk, you'll bother pedestrians. And they day people take these things to the street... at 12 mph... well that's the day I start running over doofuses on scooters with my Big Fast American Car.
posted by tomorama at 8:48 PM on December 2, 2001


Jeez, tough crowd here... what would you have said to Henry Ford? "None for me, thank you. My horse-n-buggy works just fine!"

This thing is gonna be huge. It might take awhile for it to get refined enough and cheap enough for everybody to have one... but I have no doubt that it, or an inferior rip-off version designed by someone else, will be absolutely huge.
posted by spilon at 8:54 PM on December 2, 2001


iw as really hoping for a jetpack.... i mean, it's cool and all with the self-balancing features, but... with that much hype, if it wasn't a jet pack, then it wasn't much.
posted by lotsofno at 8:55 PM on December 2, 2001


you'll bother pedestrians

no one said that it only goes 12mph. thats whats kind of nice about this thing, its the same size as a person - as in the same footprint basically. It can easily work with pedestrians.
posted by tomplus2 at 8:56 PM on December 2, 2001


There'll be droves of old people zooming around on these in a few years. Baby boomers. That's what'll get the consumer market going, when they all get too old to walk. And there's a lot of them.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 9:06 PM on December 2, 2001


How reassuring (from the Time link):
CHASSIS
...
Tested to withstand
7 tons of force--the
weight of 3 SUVs


Wait, does this mean I can drive my SUV up on one of these things and then ride it around? Sweet! And folks say SUV's can't get good gas mileage. Pfft!
posted by Swifty at 9:06 PM on December 2, 2001


IT reminds me of 1984's Best Defense.
posted by sailormouth at 9:07 PM on December 2, 2001


Keep in mind this is a 1.0 release. Version 2.0 could be quite nice.

Also, I want a test drive one so bad right now I'm hopping up and down.
posted by jkottke at 9:10 PM on December 2, 2001


Not only does it have no brakes, it also has no engine, no throttle, no gearshift and no steering wheel. And it can carry the average rider for a full day, nonstop, on only five cents' worth of electricity.

impressive, but how does it work?
posted by panopticon at 9:13 PM on December 2, 2001


This is a products liability nightmare.

And, while chances are that they done a considerable amount of risk assessment, and cost/benefits analysis, and purchased liability insurance, it looks unsafe to me too. Pinto Madness?
posted by bragadocchio at 9:16 PM on December 2, 2001


I think this is awfully cool. The real question is, Can it be modified to play iceless hockey?
posted by revbrian at 9:23 PM on December 2, 2001


It doens't look anymore unsafe than a skateboard of those deadly razor scooters. Really, I nearly killed myself on one of those.
posted by corpse at 9:23 PM on December 2, 2001


One possible explanation for the statement about UPS/Fedex/USPS finding use for these, err, thingies, is that there is going to be an "industrial" version available for about $8,000 USD. Possibly faster and able to carry a larger load?

Also, it's premature to make asessments about something not one person on this board has tried out firsthand. While it may not turn out to be revolutionary, I'll save judgement until I step on, or get run over by, one.
posted by sharksandwich at 9:26 PM on December 2, 2001


I already have an electric scooter. It's a novelty, sort of fun. I'd say it gets about the same thing as this ultra expensive electric scooter. The simple fact is that it's tiring standing for 5 minutes to get where you're going. Everyone loves to try the scooter but they don't go "I need to use this to get to work". Plus, unless this scooter protected you from the cold, what about us in climates not as perfect as Kamen's. Hmph.
posted by geoff. at 9:27 PM on December 2, 2001


I think it's pretty obvious from reading through the numerous articles listed above that the company has already tested the hell out of this product and it's going to go through an even more rigourous (like the real world) set in the next year or so. Even a person within the company is admitting that unfortunately at some point in the future, someone will be killed riding one of these. Whether it's in an automobile that drives 200mph or on a tiny aluminum foldup scooter, people eventually get killed, but it's not like this company hasn't thought of ways that they can mimimize risks.

Personally, I think it's going to catch on it other countries before it does in the United States. Our country has a very big love affair with our automobiles (Kamen even admits to it, owning a humvee and a porsche), but in countries when there isn't as much space to park (or even in larger cities within the U.S.), I could see these catching on. Also, I'd agree with JKottke above (yo!) that this is just Version 1.0. Like any product, they'll get the wrinkles ironed out and Version 2.0 will be even better.

All that said, I'm super excited by the little thing (even though at 6'6" I'd probably look like a doofus riding one), and I would love to give it a test ride. Whether it goes over or not, the immediate "cool" factor of just seeing it move is going to be pretty high. It might not change the world, but after everything I've read about Kamen, I'm glad that he's out there doing what he is. From his medical inventions to the iBot wheelchair to the F.I.R.S.T. Science Foundation, the guy is getting some amazing work done, even if you're one of the people who is completely underwhelmed by "Segway."
posted by almostcool at 9:30 PM on December 2, 2001


This is a products liability nightmare.

Yeah, at twelve miles an hour you can get a really bad bruise. I'd sue for sure! (Sometimes I hate the word liability so much I forget to laugh about it.)

It looks cool, though a bit expensive. I love the basic idea.
posted by Nothing at 9:33 PM on December 2, 2001


Kamen lives in Manchester New Hampshire... I don't think that's a very forgiving climate.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:38 PM on December 2, 2001


Jeez, everybody's a critic. Where's the simple joy in the invention itself? It sounds like a brilliant piece of engineering.
posted by billder at 9:41 PM on December 2, 2001


Keep in mind this is a 1.0 release.

Word. This anti-hype backlash is so pre-war. Just look at the product, it's unspeakably cool. Anybody with a distaste for exhaust fumes should be cheering this thing on. Clearly the price can plummet if we simply adopt these right?

Personally I can't wait to see how the kids inevitably trick it out for racing and freestyle competitions.
posted by sudama at 9:41 PM on December 2, 2001


Frankly, I'd much rather have one of these.
posted by drywall at 9:45 PM on December 2, 2001


I can see alot of great uses for this device. Every morning I drive two miles to the 'Park-n-Ride' to then travel 30 miles into town. If I had a Segway I would not need a second car, and the cost of a Segway is still going to be cheaper than keeping and maintaining a car. Count me in.

As for the mail, well, in my neighborhood the mailman walks up and down each street. I could see that with a Segway the mail would get delivered faster and that would probably mean less postal workers for the Post Office (and less to go postal, right?). So again, count me in.
posted by DragonBoy at 9:55 PM on December 2, 2001


The United States Postal Service, for instance, plans to try 20 units on mail routes in Concorde, N.H., and Fort Myers, Fla., starting in January.
I live in Concord (about 20 mins. north of Kamen) and I just hope they have some of
these . I will report the first moment I see one in town. I cannot believe they are going to use these in the winter up here. Just asking for trouble.
posted by anathema at 9:56 PM on December 2, 2001


Sorry. Quote from NYT article.
posted by anathema at 9:57 PM on December 2, 2001


Personally I can't wait to see how the kids inevitably trick it out for racing and freestyle competitions.


I can't wait to see what the kids on Jackass will do with it.
posted by Dirjy at 10:03 PM on December 2, 2001


I'm with Drywall. Does the girl come with it, or is she optional?
posted by Su at 10:07 PM on December 2, 2001


Yes, I think it is a huge advancement. I'm curious how it works... the advances and uses of the gyros are mindboggling. The moller skycar for sure could use the gyros that are inside of this thing... not to mention SUVs. Could you imagine an airplane based upon these gyros?

This advance in gyro technology is probably the first real step towards antigravity work. Combine these with the skateboards from Back to the Future (Which, I can't find a link now, but I think they actually existed...) and you've got something that would really be cool.
posted by SpecialK at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2001


I'm desperately trying to think how one of these doodads would improve my life, and I just can't do it. It's cool looking, and I'm down with the "just because" factor, but that won't get it adopted in a major way by ordinary people. Maybe if it cost $90.00, but not at $500.00, let alone $3000.

Who needs one of these? Well, suburbanites are pretty much out. The suburbs are 100% architected around the automobile. Everywhere you need to go, you drive.

So, how about city-dwellers? The big problem there is that most people in cities can easily walk to all the necessities (convenience store, local movie rental joint, burger joint). These things are less than five minutes walk, no matter where you live. But what about things that are more than an easy walk away? I've lived in DC and San Francisco, so that's all I can base my opinions on. DC has a great Metro system, that will take you anywhere you'd want to go, quickly and cheaply. Would I ride one of these rather than Metro? Nah, cause once you get there, where do you park your $3,000 worth of easily-stolen futuristic hardware? Cost-wise, one of these is about the same price as riding the metro twice a day (every day) for more than three and a half years, not counting the cost of electricity, which is probably negligible anyway.

The SF bus system sucks, and I'd do just about anything to avoid it. But even there, you have the problem of parking and securing it. And on top of that, SF features deadly reckless drivers and lots of crowded sidewalks. I wouldn't want to take one of these on a street or a sidewalk in SF. While the bus is unpleasant, at least you're out of the incessant cold drizzle, and unlikely to get mowed down by someone's SUV.

But what about the "developing world"! That's presented in the Time article as the great white hope for this. Well, give me a ring when the average annual income for the richest Chinese gets above $1500.

And, market problems aside, eventually people are going to notice that aside from the whiz-bang stabilization technology, you're basically going walking speed on a barbell with handlebars. Suddenly the whole "cool" factor kinda evaporates, and you realize that you're riding a standup Lark with one less wheel and a lot more RAM.

I think a nice bike looks a hell of a lot cooler than one of these, and is also much more impressively engineered. As someone else pointed out, the simplicity, elegance of design, and efficiency of the bicycle is an absolute marvel. The simplicity, elegance, and efficiency of this device is, so far, utterly missing.
posted by rusty at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2001


Damn, su, I sure hope so...
posted by SpecialK at 10:10 PM on December 2, 2001


Brrr.... What about Snow Tires? Windchill? Brrr...
posted by Dav0xor at 10:12 PM on December 2, 2001


The sharper image is calling right now.

"Hey Dean heard you got a pricey and semi-useless transport for the man or woman with some real money burning a hole in their pockets."

I'm sure this has applications for the disabled, but as the new way to walk its patently ridiculous.
posted by skallas at 10:15 PM on December 2, 2001


If the people here are that cynical about this thing, that means it's gonna be huge with the general population.
posted by smackfu at 10:15 PM on December 2, 2001


This anti-hype backlash is so pre-war.

And your anti-cynicism is so very early post-war. :)
posted by MegoSteve at 10:15 PM on December 2, 2001


Think about future applications! The gyroscope technology alone is amazing. It could keep Ford Explorers from rolling over, cool toys will come from this, and (though not really that important) it could be used to help paraplegics walk.

Amen. My thoughts exactly. Future uses are limitless.

I would love to have one. Here, halfway up Queen Anne hill in Seattle, a hill too steep for comfortable strolling and places to go below and above, I don't want to drive or bike. This would be wonderful. And the price? Shit, I just spent 1800 clams on a laptop. 3 grand ain't bad and the price will certainly go down should this thing take off.
posted by crasspastor at 10:21 PM on December 2, 2001


Wrong. He has stated on many occasions that he hopes the device alters the way city centers are designed, so they are more IT-friendly and completely free of cars.

Matt - I don't think he's saying this is going to change the world. Obviously, I don't know the guy, but from what I've read of him, it sounds like he just thinks this (or something like it) might change the way the busiest and most crowded areas of our cities work.

I live on the Hill in D.C., and at mid-day the streets are completely choked with Mary-go-to-lunches and Billy-go-to-the-gyms who are driving half a mile to their destinations. The biggest traffic problem is not everyone driving from the suburbs to work at the beginning and end of the day, but rather people driving very short distances to do errands, get food, or get to meetings. Commuting, even though we all mock the people in the burbs and hate their SUVs, is actually a good system. If it works, the sytem of workers living on the out-skirts of a city, and travelling there to work, WORKS.

The Segway is probably not the answer, but God knows something has to change. At least in DC, you can't drive anywhere during the lunch hour; in many cases folks can't even get out of their parking spots, especially downtown or on the Hill. The counter-point to that, of course, is that it's very hard to get (in a car) from one end of downtown, or the Hill, during rush-hour, to the other. Wouldn't it make sense that Joe Smith who works at 17th and K, and lives at 15th and U, shouldn't be commuting on the same system as the person who works at 17th and K, but lives in Falls Church, VA?

A prime example of overcrowding is visible during the weekends in a city like ours - DC recently extended its subway schedule to 2AM on weekends. Traffic on weekend nights got a little better, but it's still a nightmare downtown, in Adams Morgan, Dupont and Georgetown, i.e. the places everyone goes. Everyone is cruising through, and going somewhere different, and there's no parking. So... an easy answer would be to build more parking. But, compare the number of people (or cars) that came into DC on weekend evenings ten years ago to how many come now, and then extrapolate that to five or ten or twenty years from now. The real estate for parking simply isn't going to exist then, unless more residential space becomes parking garages.

During rush hour, at least everyone's going in the same two or three directions - all of which lead to direct routes out of town (which is what the whole urban/suburban model was supposed to accomplish in the first place). There aren't many well designed big cities, and DC sure ain't one of 'em, but anything that might cut down on excess traffic in the main business/government centers of any city would be a good thing.

I've gone on long enough here, and have glossed over enough things that are giant essays on their own, so I guess I'll stop here. Anyhow, Ginger isn't the answer, but we do need a transportation and commuting solution to fix what's wrong with our cities, and even if Kamen's wrong, I'm with him.
posted by GriffX at 10:21 PM on December 2, 2001


su, the wheelman does look like fun (more than Ginger). But it has a 60kg limit, which I haven't seen since eighth grade. So the only enjoyment I might get from wheelman would be if the girl did come with it.
posted by bragadocchio at 10:22 PM on December 2, 2001


I cannot believe they are going to use these in the winter up here. Just asking for trouble

From the Time article, Kamen's IBOT wheelchair/robot thing that shares similar technology can operate on ice, so I think the segway will do ok.
posted by mathowie at 10:26 PM on December 2, 2001


This anti-hype backlash is so pre-war.

Whoa.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:27 PM on December 2, 2001


Interesting that most of the criticisms levelled against the product in this thread already apply to existing widely-used tech:

What if I hit somebody? (I'd rather be hit by this than a car or a bike.)
- What if it's cold? (Rug up like bikers do - or pedestrians, for that matter.)
- It's too expensive. (So were cars, TVs, VCRs And PCs. Now these things are bordering on disposable. Of course, once you take away fuel and parking, it looks pretty reasonable to me...)
- I'll just walk. (15 miles each way?)
- It's not safe to use around others. (Yes, we'll have to fit it with a red flag, launch fireworks occasionally and have a boy run ahead shouting 'SEGWAY! THE SEGWAY IS COMING!')

...and so on. Wonder if they'll have an optional scoop on front so I can zip around Carmaggedon-style knocking off slow-poke Luddites?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:33 PM on December 2, 2001


Kamen's IBOT wheelchair/robot thing that shares similar technology can operate on ice, so I think the segway will do ok.
Matt, if I read the article correctly the IBOT had something like six wheels. Two wheels is a different story.
posted by anathema at 10:33 PM on December 2, 2001


Now, if only Kamen could figure out a way for these things to be anthrax powered the USPS would be set.
posted by anathema at 10:39 PM on December 2, 2001


Ok, after reading all of the Time article and NYT stuff and all the responses here, I think my opinion has changed. I was probably just let down on first view and a bit pissed knowing this will probably gain acceptance from city councils across the nation while getting a single bike lane added to a strip of highway is like pulling teeth.

It's got incredible technology, and I think the industrial applications will guarantee its initial success. The european market must be incredibly high, given the layout of cities and population distribution around them over there. This will be huge in the EU.

I could see using this in San Franciso, in parts of Los Angeles, and many of the major cities along the eastern seaboard, but doesn't the majority of the US population reside in spead-out, suburban areas? I'm still wondering if it will take hold in everyday consumer settings five to ten years from now.

What I wouldn't give to get about 5-6 of these, and play a little Segway-hockey with friends in the park...
posted by mathowie at 10:40 PM on December 2, 2001


"I already have an electric scooter. It's a novelty, sort of fun .... The simple fact is that it's tiring standing for 5 minutes to get where you're going."

Comparing the Segway to a scooter is like putting a drag racer against a Porche and seeing which does better at innercity driving.

The ultimate thing that the Segway has going for it is usability and control. You're right... most scooters are tiring, largely because you are constantly trying to stay balanced. The Segway does that for you, so it shouldn't be much more tiring than standing and a lot easier than hoofing it.

It is primarily designed for the short innercity trips that make up the majority of travel in cities - going to the cafe, the movie theatre, the store... except it will get you there in a third of the time with no parking hassles. It can handle rain, ice, hills, etc. It's also been very positively reviewed by people who know their safety. I can see this really doing well in Europe and Asia, and for people who live in the downtown of major cities in the U.S.

Just think about it... you could turn those 20 minute walks to the gym into a 6 minute ride! ;->
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:44 PM on December 2, 2001


Two wheels good! Four wheels bad!
posted by precipice at 10:46 PM on December 2, 2001


I was just recently joking that it would be embarrassing to type "segway" for "segue," But I wasn't taking into account the endless crassness of the marketing professional. These are the people who declared, "Let there be Lite."
posted by pracowity at 10:46 PM on December 2, 2001


Matt, if I read the article correctly the IBOT had something like six wheels. Two wheels is a different story.

Isn't it probable though, that these gyroscopes could detect loss of traction on the fly much like ABS systems do when brakes are applied? Granted, it's not a perfect antidote to the slickery streets. But, as a thought pops into my mind, couldn't this technology be used in existing forms of auto transport to warn of decreasing traction or be used to automatically switch to 4X4 etc?

Like, "What's that flashing?"

"Driving through Wyoming ain't like dusting crops boy. You could slide too far into a hidden ravine in the most remote portion of the contiguous US on a 30 below night or bounce to close to a rocky mountainside. That'd end your trip real quick wouldn't it?"
posted by crasspastor at 10:47 PM on December 2, 2001


Here, halfway up Queen Anne hill in Seattle, a hill too steep for comfortable strolling and places to go below and above, I don't want to drive or bike.

Dude, I used to live on that same goddamn hill! I know exactly what you mean!

Here in Los Angeles it is a bit hard to imagine this thing being very practical, especially in the more densely populated areas. But for cruising around the suburbs, and especially in almost any part of the midwest, where the chances of you getting in a car's way are pretty small if you're not stupid...it could be very useful. In certain respects it may not seem like it's anything new, but then again, neither are those stupid thin metal foot-propelled scooters you see everywhere nowadays.
posted by bingo at 10:50 PM on December 2, 2001


If the creators of the iPod, Ginger, and Daikatana combined forces, they could revolutionize the disappointment industry...
posted by Danelope at 10:54 PM on December 2, 2001


Oh... and I definitely want one of these for Burning Man. Now if only all those damn cars and bicycles weren't kicking up so much dust and turning the playa to mush.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:56 PM on December 2, 2001


"In every Segway there are 10 microprocessors cranking out three PCs' worth of juice. Also a cluster of aviation-grade gyros, an accelerometer, a bevy of sensors, two batteries and software so sophisticated it puts Microsoft to shame."

Uhh, so it's running Pong, then?
posted by Danelope at 10:56 PM on December 2, 2001


Wow, I think this thing has enormous implications to the future. There are two major points to consider.

1). We are about to experience the biggest explosion in the population of the elderly in human history. What a device like this will mean for mobility for senior citizens and the disabled is incalculable.

2). Someone here mentioned Henry Ford. Right, that's directly on the mark of how this should be considered. Every major cultural and economic change has had to do with transportation. By 1911 several dozen people had made hundreds of millions of dollars. The largest corporation in the history of the world was created in a decade and still exists today as number one.

This time, there are only a very few people who will monopolize this new market. We would all do well to stop sniping at the thing and start thinking about how we can become the next Alfred Sloan or, David Buick. Thus, getting in on the action instead of leaving it to DEKA and it's investors. Dana, Eaton, Rockwell, Firestone, Goodyear, Etc all thrived because they improved on an original idea. Go out and start thinking folks... I feel strongly that this is 1901 (for transportation) all over again. All of this blather, from an "expert" in Flint, the cradle of the automotive industry... (haha) Take that for what it's worth.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 11:06 PM on December 2, 2001


No brakes? Follows my body movements? I dunno. I don't want to sneeze and be hurled into the street.
posted by fleener at 11:15 PM on December 2, 2001


rusty said: you're basically going walking speed on a barbell with handlebars

Sorry to be pedantic, but very brisk walking is around 6 km/h. 12 mph is about 19 km/h - definitely above walking speed.

Personally, I think this is kinda cool, if overpriced. But as for radically changing urban design - what happened to science fiction-style moving walkways instead of regular footpaths?
posted by eoz at 11:25 PM on December 2, 2001


I was promised flying cars. Where are the flying cars?
posted by justgary at 11:29 PM on December 2, 2001


Very few cities and towns in America have bike routes, and even then routes won't take you everywhere you need to go.

And there is the big problem with safety. If we had bike lanes and trails biking would be much safer and a more viable option for everyday travel.

It's already faster, cheaper, and probably easier to maintain than the 'scooter'.

Not to mention the great fitness benefits biking can give. Of course, biking requires a little bit of effort and sweat which will push many people towards the scooter (and an even bigger waist line).
posted by justgary at 11:37 PM on December 2, 2001


how can you guys be so dissapointed in the hype you helped enflame?
posted by Satapher at 11:56 PM on December 2, 2001


Frankly, I'd much rather have one of these.

So would I. But what's that goofy-assed thing she's standing on?
posted by Optamystic at 11:59 PM on December 2, 2001


I think that these would be a great thing to have at those carshare places around some major cities where you can check out a car for the day. Those two things in combination would solve many people's transportation needs. Besides, it woudl be great to step out of the office, pick one of these up at the local depot, cruise a few miles to lunch and back or whatever, and then drop it off where you got it. That would seriously revolutionize city life, potentially.
posted by donkeymon at 12:20 AM on December 3, 2001


So many are talking about how impractical it would be to "own" one...but consider the opportunities this type of product could present to the savvy entreprenuers.

Someone, someday is going to make money (or at least try to) renting these out in areas in where significant foot distance needs to be traveled in short spurts of time or where more mobility equals greater freedom.

Examples: Pre-paid rentals on college campuses. Swipe your pre-pay card, grab one from the rack and ride across campus to the next station to drop it off. Disneyland? Downtowns? Large, sprawling venues? Etc.

We don't need to own one, just have access to one when we need it, perhaps as part of public transportation systems. Sharing programs seem to be picking up steam. City Carshare for example.

Anyone know if it would be considered a tax write-off for an alternative fuel vehicle for business or individual???
posted by nix at 12:34 AM on December 3, 2001


I'm astounded by the cynicism and whining in this thread! In five years I hope each and every one of you who poo-pooed this invention and find yourself cruising downtown on the latest model Segway or similar device remember to give yerselves a big kick in the ass.

Seriously folks, it's not just this initial invention that counts, but all the advancements it's going to allow. This thing runs on electricity that will cost about five cents a day. FIVE CENTS. No pollution. Just think what this could do for the smog levels in cities and the quality of air in general. If nothing else, imagine the fun of watching big oil empires crumble as this safe, affordable, environmental and gas-free device transforms the way cities are built and the way we move around in them. Three thousand dollars is nothing compared to the price of the first automobile, and it will only get cheaper and more efficient. And, if it's a hover-device you were looking for, believe me, the Segway's far more likely to succeed at that than any auto, ever, if only because it's so light.

I was very excited to find out what IT was, and all of my hopes and expectations have been met. I can't wait to try the Segway, own it and watch it transform the world.
posted by Bones423 at 12:42 AM on December 3, 2001


Oh, I am almost forgot the military application:

The U.S. goverment, of course, will buy a few hundred thousand, strap bulletproof shields and machine guns on it and try to figure out how it then makes our soldiers more technologically advance for urban warfare.

After five years, they'll scrap the project and everyone at the Pentagon will get one to ride around in the underground tunnels.
posted by nix at 12:43 AM on December 3, 2001


It's just another excuse for people to ride when they could have walked, to make more noise when they could have strolled quietly by, to pave more surfaces that they could have left green, to buy expensive gadgets when they could have saved the money or bought something worthwhile, and to make normal walking even harder by lengthening the distances between the places people now walk.

I was hoping for a pet monkey. Some sort of government program to give everyone a pet monkey. Named Ginger.
posted by pracowity at 1:01 AM on December 3, 2001


How reassuring (from the Time link):

CHASSIS
...
Tested to withstand
7 tons of force--the
weight of 3 SUVs


Yeah, we're gonna need it as the average ass size balloons as a result of no one walking. Oh, and driving a half mile to the gym is silly.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 1:36 AM on December 3, 2001


I can see this being used by security guards in malls, policemen on their beats, delivery boys (if they can put a carrier on the front)

The best future use apart from helping people with physical ailments, is it will help us make better robots. I think bots like Rosy from Jetsons can be made using this technology.
posted by riffola at 1:41 AM on December 3, 2001


The price doesn't seem that high to me. Sure I can't afford to buy one tomorrow, but people who can afford to will. Remember Aibo, that $2500 "robot" dog sold out it's entire first production run in 20 minutes. Sony's up to four robot pets now, and then there's that creepy Necoro. $3000 is nothing.

So it's not a hoverboard, or maybe it is a hoverboard with training wheels. As soon as someone perfects anti-gravity or mag-lev, you can be sure the Segway leveling components will be there.

I saw Kamen demo the stair-climbing wheelchair IBOT on 60 minutes last year. What completely amazed me was the balancing mechanism which became the heart of Segway. A normal sized man was demonstrating the IBOT's 2-wheel balancing trick, as shown in the photo on DEKA Research's page. Once he was up, he moved a little, and then someone threw a large ball at him (basketball I think). He caught it, and the chair compensated for the impact of the ball. It was jaw-drop cool. Almost droid-like.

The actual experience of this thing must be completely new. As mentioned above, it made Andy Grove giggle. Aside from all that, I find Dean Kamen inspirational. I'll be glued to the TV in, uh, four hours.
posted by joemaller at 1:42 AM on December 3, 2001


What a bunch of off the cuff remarks. Hello? This device balances and propels on two wheels with no effort on the rider's part. Hello? BFD? Come on!

What about the batteries? Not only how cheap per mile, but have they made an enormous advance in this area as well? Laptops and lots of other portable devices may benefit, perhaps cars. But I couldn't find much detail on the batteries, though; if anyone sees anything please post.

su, the photo of Kamen in the Time article shows him looking back and going forward. (Those who want to point out the danger of doing this: no less dangerous than doing the same in a car or on a bike.)
posted by mmarcos at 3:11 AM on December 3, 2001


116 comments later and this awesome invention is finally put into perspective. Thank you mmarcos.
posted by crasspastor at 3:39 AM on December 3, 2001


Looks too much like a Scotts seed spreader, circa 1975.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:12 AM on December 3, 2001


yeah mmarcos, it really is $2000 for the super batteries, and only $900 for the scooter, $100 goes to the insurance.

Did you read the part of the article where Kamen makes this odd comment:


A small scoot for a man, a great scooter for all.
posted by greyscale at 4:20 AM on December 3, 2001


They just showed it on Good Morning America. When it's available at an affordable price, and lacking better alternatives, I will buy one. :)

I thought it was funny that Diane kept saying "It's stable, it's so stable!" only to loose her balance while turning.
posted by riffola at 4:42 AM on December 3, 2001


By the way, there's a segway.com already... (well futuristic too :)
posted by flimjam at 4:52 AM on December 3, 2001


I thought it was funny that Diane kept saying "It's stable, it's so stable!" only to loose her balance while turning.

Diane also demostrated that you can't run into another scooter, but you can run over a pedestrian's foot (although it ostensibly won't hurt them). My immediate reaction: "Oh, no! The Bogue Street bridge (a bridge on MSU's campus over the Red Cedar that has a vey narrow walkway and is known for near misses between cars, pedestrains, and cyclists) is going to get even more crowded."
posted by iceberg273 at 4:53 AM on December 3, 2001


This invention looks very exciting. I can think of one place which this will definitely be a hit -- here on the narrow streets on Tokyo.
posted by dydecker at 5:02 AM on December 3, 2001


This will be huge in the EU.

I think we're too cynical ... at least in the UK. Think of the Sinclair C5 ... it promised cheap, fast, electrical-powered transport way back in the eighties. I think they eventually sold three.

My take is that there will be some useful spin-offs from Segway (it is quite sexy technology), and that something similar might make a go of it later, but that this particular device won't get very far (see what I did there?).

The biggest problem is that it's illegal to ride a wheeled vehicle on the pavement, and there's no fucking way you're getting me in amongst the lorries and buses at 12mph, even if you could show me a motorised weeble!
posted by walrus at 5:23 AM on December 3, 2001


Dude where's my car?
posted by adampsyche at 5:29 AM on December 3, 2001


Yeah, but how am I gonna get my groceries home in it?
posted by crunchland at 5:42 AM on December 3, 2001


As a suburbanite, I can see potential, even in areas architected around 5 lane highways. However, there needs to be some refinement.

I often drive 1 mile to the grocery store because I need the trunk of the car to haul food home and I need to bring my kid. I've often walked the distance with the stroller, but then I also have the problem of where to put the goods on the way home (and I can't do that in inclement weather).

We've talked about getting a Vespa, which are ubiquitous in Italian cities, for short jaunts around town. They've started marketing them in the US recently. But we could only use the Vespa 1/2 the year in Chicago. And I still have the problem of where to put the kid.

With some refinement, I could see Ginger making a difference. The technology itself seems very cool.
posted by kat at 6:05 AM on December 3, 2001


Just watched the video on www.segway.com - Hahaha! I want one of the funny scooters!
posted by jiroczech at 6:06 AM on December 3, 2001


crunchland's thought is mine, too. Good Morning America showed one with twin side baskets, each about large enough for a briefcase, but not enough for my average grocery buy, and I'm single. Families? Forget it. Difficult to pick up dry-cleaning with one, or buy Christmas presents, or any purchase much larger than toiletries or a rental videotape/DVD. Maybe you'll be able to get extra Segways, just for carrying packages, slaved to yours by a Bluetooth link, that bob along after you like so many robotic native bearers following the Great White Shopper through the urban jungle.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:06 AM on December 3, 2001


bragadocchio : The 60kg limit for the Wheelman looks like it's only for one particular model. Looks neat overall too.

Re the Seqway? I reckon Kamen just needs to up the design level a little (cue Steve Jobs?). No-one gets turned on by bland grey devices (look at the C5), but if it was polished chrome or a groovy Playstation2 black....well a different story for a lot of folks.

Nevertheless a cool tech product and props to Kamen all round. A remarkable guy!
posted by Duug at 6:14 AM on December 3, 2001


Slithy_Tove: OK, your other alternative besides a car is a bicycle, motorcycle or (motor) scooter. How many groceries are you able to bring home on one of those? No one called this a *total* alternative to the car. So, back to the complaints drawing board.
posted by raysmj at 6:15 AM on December 3, 2001


How long until the first Segway Jousting Championship?

Or Segway Polo? (to borrow from Matt's hockey idea)
posted by arco at 6:50 AM on December 3, 2001


Just a note:

Kamen's aspirations are even grander than that. He believes the Segway "will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy."

So, uh, Kamen does think this little dohickey will revolutionize more than city downtowns.

The main thing I have with it is what others have already mentioned; it's great for short trips, or maybe commuting to the train and so forth. Except when it's cold, raining, or otherwise inhospitatible out. Mainly raining.

And also, for trips to the store. I mean, you can't really do any shopping, unless you have everything delivered or come back later and pick it up in your car or something.
posted by rich at 6:50 AM on December 3, 2001


I wonder how it handles under the influnce, I would use to to drive back from the bar down the street.
posted by corpse at 6:54 AM on December 3, 2001


raysmj, when people are talking about 'redesigning cities' around this thing, my impression is yes, they are considering it as an alternative to the car.

I'm trying to think about how this fits into the whole urban transportation picture. For anything less than about 5 blocks, I'd walk. (Personally, I'd walk a lot more than that, but I know many people wouldn't.) For anything more than about 5 miles, I'd use a car or other transportation. I wouldn't want to use it in the rain; it's said to be safe, but constantly being pelted with rain head-on isn't pleasant, and you're likely to arrive wherever you're going soaked. I can't use it for more than one or two small packages. So what is it good for? Going to work, if I live nearby, and don't plan on shopping on the way home. Evening stuff, clubs, movies, etc., maybe. And speaking of urban issues, I would be reluctant to take it through a questionably safe neighborhood, one I wouldn't feel safe walking or biking through.

I'm not sure what the Segway's future is. As others have said, the technology is very cool, but right now, it seems like a solution looking for a problem. But you know, that's what they said about the laser when it was developed 35 years ago, and now look. I'm pretty sure it will find some place in the urban transportation mix, but where? Reply hazy, ask again later.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:06 AM on December 3, 2001


Silthy_Tove: My point was, really, that bicycles and scooters would be used more now if you *could* carry even just a bit more on them, and they were safer and less bulky. From what I've seen on GMA, you can already carry much more on this thing than on a bike. Riding on a sidewalk is next to impossible in most cases, and often legally prohibited. The Segway could certainly expand the number of non-motorists many times over - or at least has the potential to do so. That alone would create no small demand for new urban infrastructure, or redesign. I'll never give up the bike, and love using it now, but I realize that I'm in a very small minority. Both the cycle and this new Segway thing are, however, total daytime things. And most people shop for grocercies and get dry cleaning, etc., after work hours.
posted by raysmj at 7:36 AM on December 3, 2001


I'll tell you one thing: My mailman takes a shortcut across the lawn to go from house to house. If he ripped across my lawn on one of those wheeled contraptions I'm going to be quite irritated.
posted by fnirt at 7:37 AM on December 3, 2001


How long until the first Segway Jousting Championship?

As someone pointed out in an old Ginger thread, all of those other recreational uses have been anticipated and patent and trademark protection applied for:

IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: EDUCATION AND ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES, NAMELY PROMOTING AND CONDUCTING CLINICS, EXHIBITIONS AND COMPETITION IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF HUMAN TRANSPORTERS WHICH INCORPORATE ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS CONSISTING OF SEMICONDUCTER CHIPS, RELAY SWITCHES AND COMPUTER SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE FOR THE BALANCE, CONTROL AND OPERATION OF SUCH HUMAN TRANSPORTERS

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: ASSOCIATION SERVICES FOR OWNERS, ENTHUSIASTS AND RACERS OF HUMAN TRANSPORTERS WHICH INCORPORATE ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS CONSISTING OF SEMICONDUCTER CHIPS, RELAY SWITCHES AND COMPUTER SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE FOR THE BALANCE, CONTROL AND OPERATION OF SUCH HUMAN TRANSPORTERS

posted by xiffix at 7:46 AM on December 3, 2001


When I saw the Segway, all I could think was, "Gee, my Vespa is faster, cuter, less expensive, and it can haul more people and cargo." A nation of Vespas—now that I'd like to see. Which reminds me, Kat, go buy the Vespa now. I, too, live in Chicago, and Vespy and I are one from March through November.
posted by acornface at 8:05 AM on December 3, 2001


Um, it's a scooter, people. A $3000 scooter. I got a question for the "replace the car" contingent. What about in the rain? And how large a segment of the population is going to be of means sufficient to give their kids a $3000 scooter? Plus you can get a really nice used Beetle for $3000.

While this might be extra nice for zipping about campus on a sunny May morning, your average suit is not giving up his/her Chrysler Lebaron for their 40-minute commute downtown for a scooter. What about rain? What about SNOW? Where's the radio? Where's the ashtray? How exactly will my ass be sufficiently cushioned? What happens if I am a cup of coffee short, in traffic, and I let go of the handles?

St. Louis doesn't have enough money for the dogcatcher to keep up with the feral dogs. If you think they're going to redesign this city around a scooter, think again beavis. Acornface is right - they'd be better off redesigning and remarketing Vespas.
posted by UncleFes at 8:11 AM on December 3, 2001


Actually while Segway maybe compact and be practical for some situations, I believe Swatch and Mercedes' Smart is a better option, esp with services like city-wide rentals.
posted by riffola at 8:38 AM on December 3, 2001


Top speed = 12mph; that's about the pace at which a top runner covers a marathon, and those guys move. I don't think I want to be walking on any city sidewalk where people are zipping along on these things. Yeah, I know you don't have to go flat-out, but let's face it: most people will. Heh, I would. :-) At the same time, that's nowhere near fast enough for most commutes or any kind of long trip.

gimonca: According to the NYT article, it can go a whopping 15 miles on a six-hour charge
panopticon (quoting): it can carry the average rider for a full day, nonstop, on only five cents' worth of electricity

Can someone unpack this for me? The first claim seems reasonable, the second looks like an enormous advance in battery tech...
posted by sennoma at 8:38 AM on December 3, 2001


acornface more or less sums it up. This machine is easy to bash, not because of the anti-hype reaction (which helps) but because it has so many strikes against it in ever becoming a mainstream toy let alone a revolutionary invention. I'm sure this will have as much impact as his earlier work - that is on a small specialized market.

Its too slow for the street and too quick for crowded sidewalks. Its way too expensive for anything close to what an average person can spend for a fair-weather only ass trolley. It has next to no range compared to gas-powered alternatives. Like a lot of people already mentioned there's no infrastructure for it, save a few bike lanes. Lastly, buying a new or used scooter is a lot smarter and makes sense in both urban and suburban settings.

It looks more like a proof of concept than a ready to sell device. Okay, kudos to Dean for getting all the neat gyros and computers in there, but his main competitor is the inner ear and comes free when you buy a bike. I'm sure the hype isn't intended for end consumers as much as its targeted for developers who would license Dean's patents for other applications. Bravo to Dean's PR team. A technology that would have most likely sat in obscurity is now, according to some of you, is the new reason to rebuild cities.

This is little more than wheels on your feet. Comparing this to a scooter is practically unfair because the Segway loses on every front. Its better compared to other proof of concept devices like the spring powered shoe, the gas shoe, or even those gym shoes that turn into rollerblades.
posted by skallas at 8:56 AM on December 3, 2001


Hey, it could be pretty funky for robotics though. A stable platform for movement, etc.
posted by walrus at 9:00 AM on December 3, 2001


Only the most athletic could lose their virginity on this thing. No backseat, etc. How can it possibly replace the car?
posted by quercus at 9:08 AM on December 3, 2001


A lot of people who live in large cities have a distorted idea of distance. I live in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn and work in the West Village of Manhattan. That's about 5 miles away, but it takes me about 50 minutes to get there by subway. If I really could average 10-12 mph I would shorten my commute considerably, not to mention saving about $50/month. This is what I believe he meant by "compress time and space for pedestrians".
By the way, no way this thing runs on sidewalks. If it does take off, look for a renewed push for bike ... er... "small vehicle" lanes on streets. And accommodations for secure parking either in lots or office buildings.
posted by Spork65 at 9:09 AM on December 3, 2001


on their site, there's a rather cryptic note about "Future Off Board Cargo Model: over 300 lbs" [click "segway" on the top nav, then "see segway HT"]
posted by epersonae at 9:13 AM on December 3, 2001


Video
posted by Niahmas at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2001


-can take a date on one

-NIX has a good idea, these would be good as quickie rental transports in campus environments, maybe with GPS so they only work in a certain area. Better yet, make them FREE. THAT would be a revolution in transportation.

The gyroscopes already have application in the Wheelchair he built...That is a revolutionary product. The world doesn't need more personal transportation devices, we need urban centers that are designed to live and work in, streets designed for pedestrians and public transport instead of cars. Ultimate personal transportation? Bikes, Motorcycles, [my Vespa is stuck in a garage] scooters. The BMW C-1 is much more of a step forward than this i think.

Make one without wheels and i'll be impressed.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:49 AM on December 3, 2001


Once you see that video, how can you not be giddy with excitement for the future of this technology? Show me another two-wheeled "scooter" that remains standing when you let go of the handlebars, or when you step off of it, and I'll eat my hat.

This is big. This jump is huge.
posted by sixfoot6 at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2001


The gyros are awesome. My bike is already pretty stable, but with the gyros...woof.

Having said that, this thing already has already raised my ire. I'm not a fan of anything that discourages people from walking or biking or basically being active. My neighborhood was infested with kids on those lawnmower-powered scooters this summer. Great. Kids being lazy and polluting. At least the Segway won't add to the smog. It will certainly add to the Fat Asses Of America.

I can also see these things being abused like hell. People will ride them on the sidewalks, pissing off pedestrians. They'll then take 'em to the bike lanes, pissing off cars and cyclists.

I dunno. They're not going to revolutionize cities until there's a shift in the way car drivers act. You can be the most careful cyclist in the world, obeying every traffic law, signalling everywhere, and yet you're still on the road with motorists are still going to think you're on a toy, not a vehicle. Segways should be treated as vehicles, meaning they're going to be a part of traffic, meaning they're not going to do squat to change the way we get around in American cities until public perception of personal transport changes.

On the other hand, Baby Boomers are going to flock to these damn things, meaning they'll start whining about equal access for personal transport. That I wouldn't mind. More bikes lanes, then.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2001


hold on to your hat, but don't eat it, please...that can't be good for you.

i'm not saying that the tech isn't cool. i am always giddy about the future of technology.

i just think that there are all these ideas that need to change instead. Functional mass transit. Cities designed for pedestrians. Portland's downtown [i've read] has blocks designed to be an attainable walking distance by average pedestrians to encourage walking. That is smart. Driving 2 hours to work? a train would take 1 hour. a Bullet train would take 30 minutes. That is smart.

It is in the price range of Executives, yet is something that high school students will like better. And for people who already make an effort not to drive so much, how can this possibly compete with my 30mph curb jumping, cardio-vascular pumping mountain bike?

great technology. Amazing. Fun. Would be a great replacement for bumper cars, or rentals at Disneyworld or something. Society changing, no. no way. Not yet. Great solution to the wrong problem.

I'm being a pill. I really just want one that can fly.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:44 AM on December 3, 2001


I was somewhat let down, but then I saw the demo on Good Morning America. While it may not be practical, it is definitely cool. It would be cooler if it made that little bzzzzz sound the flying cars made on the Jetsons. I had a thought of people whizzing around on these things and nodding to each other "Good morning citizen XJE-4, it is fun living in LosAngeles7"

By the way, UncleFes, Kamen said that it works on snow. Segway snow tires?
posted by owillis at 10:49 AM on December 3, 2001


How many groceries are you able to bring home on one of those?

I could actually carry home over a weeks worth on my bike. I wouldn't, but you asked. People who don't think a bike can carry much havn't done any distance biking.
posted by justgary at 10:54 AM on December 3, 2001


Kamen said that it works on snow

It grows a roof?? I wear a suit to work, dude, along with a goodly portion of the toy-buying population. And I drive really fast, weave in and out of traffic, and need one hand free for cell phone and/or stereo control. This thing'd get me killed and soaked. Maybe in that order.
posted by UncleFes at 11:19 AM on December 3, 2001


owillis, you mean like this. I'm laughing just thinking about it! They did seem pretty quiet on gma.
posted by tomplus2 at 11:19 AM on December 3, 2001


Wow! Over 150 comments, this is starting to look like The Next Big Thing. A few observations:

- While riding one of these gives you less of a workout than walking, it's got to be more than what I'm getting sitting here at a computer. At least it gets you outdoors.

- Could be extremely helpful to the elderly and partially disabled.

- As a gearhead, I'm already thinking of mods: anyone for rocket boosters?

- How about one for each foot? That could be connected together to make a 4-wheel drive skateboard or scooter...
posted by groundhog at 11:27 AM on December 3, 2001


Dean Kamen's Pro Segway 2 (heh)
posted by mathowie at 11:27 AM on December 3, 2001


My vote: it's crap and will die a quiet death, quickly.

15 miles on a charge? $3000? Where would you put/park it when you reached a shop or other destination that it wouldn't be immediately stolen? What advantage does it have over a similar scooter with FOUR wheels to balance it and no computer brain? At least the steering mechanism is superior to the one on the South Park episode.

Nuttiest product of the millennium (so far).
posted by rushmc at 11:41 AM on December 3, 2001


Does it come with a flower?
posted by swift at 11:41 AM on December 3, 2001


Walking is so 20th century!
posted by Sal Amander at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2001


Now we know what Nite Owl and Silk Spectre were riding across Antarctica.
posted by rdc at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2001


Watch: they'll be Ginger lanes before bicycle lanes in NYC. Bastards.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2001


Where would you put/park it when you reached a shop or other destination that it wouldn't be immediately stolen?

What? It doesn't fold up into a briefcase when you land on the roof of Spacely's Sprockets?!
posted by jerseygirl at 1:13 PM on December 3, 2001


Just think about it... you could turn those 20 minute walks to the gym into a 6 minute ride! ;->

Alternately, if you rode a bicycle to the gym instead of driving there, you could cut your workout time in half.
posted by pudders at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2001


I'm gonna stick with my 1980 Vespa P200E. WAY cooler and the chicks diggit!
posted by black8 at 1:30 PM on December 3, 2001


ParisParamus, that's "there'll", not "they'll", unless you intended on talking "jive" like the little old lady in "Airplane".

I had been trying to find this tidbit elsewhere but it's on the Segway site: "Half of all car trips taken by Americans are less than five miles long and transport only the driver." The Smart (I see lots of them in my neighborhood) and Vespas and the like are unquestionably more efficient than the normal 4-wheeled animal, but this is efficiency that cannot be matched by anything else. How many of those car trips mentioned above are for a quickie purchase at a 7 Eleven (or something equivalent).

Those people who argue that this will make people walk less: Oh yeah? Where in the US do people walk except for a few large urban areas like NYC and SF? The US has an epidemic of obesity. My cynical side says at least let's not pollute the planet!

The snow and rain thing? Well, then, let's stop buying bicycles, scooter and motorcycles. Come on, that's a lame attack on the thing. I lived in NYC for a long time. Never owned any vehicle except a bicycle which I used when the weather was appropriate. Used to ride from Washington Heights to Wall Street to work, took a shower and put on my suit.
posted by mmarcos at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2001


And so it goes on:

This'll just contribute to 'fat-assed American' syndrome. (And your fucking Buick doesn't?)
But what if it rains? (Erm...ever heard of raincoats?)

You people remind me of Grandpa Simpson. I can just see MeFi circa 1900:

Why would I buy one of those damn noisy auto-mo-beels when my Bessy gets 100 miles to the bale? They'll have to build better roads to cope with the speed - never happen. What about the infrastructure? Where am I ever going to find gasoline for one of these damned Satanic contraptions? I could drive someplace and not be able to get back home again! They'll never be able to share the road with a horse and cart. And my Bessy will only let me ride her - what's to stop some 'ornery Yankee from climbin' right on in and stealin' it? And think of the noise! Folks won't stand for that. Why, I could buy a stable of horses for the price of that thing. Revolutionary my ass - it's just a train without rails, a cart with a motor. Why couldn't they make it fly? I'm cold! I don't like the look of those teenagers!

Go ahead and bitch. It'll just make your kids want it more.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:30 PM on December 3, 2001


Those people who argue that this will make people walk less: Oh yeah? Where in the US do people walk except for a few large urban areas like NYC and SF?

I can't remember where I read it, but I think the statistic was the average american walks only about 100 yards a day. Basically through the home, down to the car, from the car to the office and back.
posted by mathowie at 2:54 PM on December 3, 2001


The snow and rain thing? Well, then, let's stop buying bicycles, scooter and motorcycles.

Done!

the statistic was the average american walks only about 100 yards a day

I think we can do better than that! I'm personally down to 40 feet, followed up with a celebratory rubdown and a nice soothing shower.

So I'm not sore in the morning, you know.
posted by UncleFes at 2:57 PM on December 3, 2001


don't forget the 30+ yards from the Costco™ parking lot to the chili dog stand.
posted by gazingus at 3:21 PM on December 3, 2001


Is Costco™ not cool? I just joined and am in love. I bought enough toothpaste to last the rest of my life.
posted by thirteen at 3:25 PM on December 3, 2001


rdc: nice reference! Ginger would fit in their world quite nicely - they even had power plugs on every corner
posted by jazon at 3:34 PM on December 3, 2001


At least it didn't turn out like some of these.
posted by mkn at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2001


mkn: Does anyone know what's up with Drawing No. 3?
posted by raysmj at 4:26 PM on December 3, 2001


You people remind me of Grandpa Simpson.

*Puts an onion on his belt, as was the style in those days.*
posted by iceberg273 at 4:35 PM on December 3, 2001


I'm surprised at some of the limited thinking I am seeing here. Some folks say that bikes are better because they're faster... yet go on to say that sidewalks are no place for wheels! I think that's exactly the point of the Segway: it's slow enough for sidewalks. Remember that this device is unlike anything we have experience with: it's not at all like a bicycle or moped or scooter (all of which are designed for forward motion only, have a relatively huge turning radius, and fall over at low speeds). I was sort of doubting until I saw the guy in the video doing pirouettes and slowing at will to pedestrian pace. Wow. The degree of control on this thing looks great. Sure it would be possible to mow down pedestrians at 12mph -- but the beauty is that with a little skill it's totally possible to flow with the crowd instead. Is that even feasible with any other vehicle? Skates, maybe... but those do require protective gear.
posted by greengirl at 4:45 PM on December 3, 2001


Folks, forgive me if I'm re-posting this link, but I may have skimmed over it (this is one long thread!).

To address the cargo/trailer/grocery questions this site has footage of a mail delivery application as well as a little trailer. Nifty!
posted by redshifter at 4:47 PM on December 3, 2001


It doesn't fold up into a briefcase when you land on the roof of Spacely's Sprockets?!

Dunno about you, but I work for Cogswell Cogs.
posted by owillis at 5:34 PM on December 3, 2001


  1. Faceplanting.
  2. Getting mugged. Carjacking already happens. So does bikejacking. God help us, now we’ll have itjacking. You won't even need a weapon. Just do as in The Fermata: Stop time for a moment and push the rider off.
  3. Orientation of feet. Photos seem to indicate very small area for width of forefoot but enormous area for heels. Size 12 feet in winter boots that do not naturally point directly ahead are f<asterisk>ed here. I am pretty sure my legs would get sore from being twisted to face directly front.
  4. Horribly tired of reading IT as though acronym for information technology. Gratified the sled has an actual name now so f<asterisk>wits will no longer pretend the Caps Lock can genuinely stand in for italics or halfway-intelligent writing.
posted by joeclark at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2001


Getting mugged. Carjacking already happens. So does bikejacking. God help us, now we’ll have itjacking. You won't even need a weapon. Just do as in The Fermata: Stop time for a moment and push the rider off.

The article mentioned the device having some sort of security in the form of fingerpring recognition.
posted by adampsyche at 6:35 PM on December 3, 2001


(And your fucking Buick doesn't?)

No, because the alternative activity is to walk or ride your bike.

PS: I don't believe the "mileage claim"
posted by ParisParamus at 6:39 PM on December 3, 2001


I can't wait to get the skinny from the postal workers here in Concord, NH next month. At least they will be a bit more objective than the sources we are getting today. I still don't see this taking off, but who knows, much stranger things have happened.
posted by anathema at 6:59 PM on December 3, 2001


No, because the alternative activity is to walk or ride your bike.

The people who would walk or bike when the distance is short enough to walk or bike already do so. Everyone else drives their Buicks.
posted by kindall at 7:12 PM on December 3, 2001


raysmj: I think that was the extra lazy edition. For people that can't walk AND can't be bothered with standing.
posted by mkn at 7:15 PM on December 3, 2001


Many sporting young middle-class men of the mid to late nineteenth century were seduced by the exciting new design of bicycle known as the ordinary, or "penny-farthing" in popular parlance. Large clubs were formed along military lines and cycling "schools" made a healthy profit from acquainting the leisured classes with the new craze.

As you probably know, the ordinary is characterized by a front wheel very much larger in diameter than the rear - its radius being approximately equal to the inside leg measurement of the rider. Chain drives for bicycles (enabling gearing) were very much in their infancy and the large front wheel was the only mechanically reliable way to provide a sufficiently high gear to reach high speeds.

The ordinary had one, ultimately fatal (literally in a few cases) design flaw. The rider was required to sit nearly on top of that large front wheel, placing his (for a woman to ride such a machine was considered most unladylike) center of gravity almost directly above the front axle. In the event of any obstruction preventing smooth rolling of the machine, this resulted in the riders momentum continuing to carry him forward unimpeded, whilst the machine came to a halt - the results ranging from undignified to tragic. Early chain-driven bicycles, once they became mechanically reliable and popular, were called "safety bicycles" for good reason.

In practice, the experienced rider learned to concentrate on his path, avoiding any potential obstruction and on descents would hang his legs over the handlebars in the hope of landing feet, rather than head, first. Another mechanical advantage in his favor was, simply, the huge diameter of the front wheel. Any obstruction had to be relatively sizable to completely impede progress. Most road imperfections and holes were relatively small enough to be negotiable.

"IT"/"Ginger"/"Segway" places the rider's center of gravity almost directly above its wheels' axle. The wheels are small. There is a rigid column between the rider's legs.
posted by normy at 7:37 PM on December 3, 2001


All of this nay-saying is ridiculous. Yes, you bought into the hype and were let down. It's not a water engine. And yes, it's not a perfect solution for every transportation problem. But, and this is hard for Americans to comprehend, we can't keep driving gas-powered vehicles. Yes, I'm sorry, some day you will have to retire your SUV and your motorcycle. And when that day comes, this type of vehicle will have been improved upon and developed thanks to the people who support it in the next few years.

Can you people not see past this first incarnation of the technology? This machine can balance itself. Think about it. We built a computer that could beat the best chess player on earth before we built a machine that could stay upright. You're saying that this won't change cities? Sure, it won't be the Segway, but it will be technology like this. Look, you can bitch and moan all you want about the decent 17mph max. speed (the actual number, it seems) and the 15 miles per charge, but it does that on a dimes worth of electricity!

Oh, and something tells me that it won't be long before we are seeing all-weather versions. How hard would it be to put a wind and rain shell around this? Hell, you could even have the shell just cover the front and sides, since you approach the vehicle from the back. Ooooh, that would be cool.

Sorry folks, this vehicle requires a paradigm shift. You can't compare it to your motorcycle/bike/car. If for no other reason, it's a HELL of a lot smarter.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 7:50 PM on December 3, 2001


Hey normy, could the "ordinary" stand upright on its own? The Segway can. BIG difference.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 7:54 PM on December 3, 2001


Normy - so the balance and heading of early velocipedes were monitored and corrected thousands of times a second by several arrays of redundant on-board computers, right?
posted by GriffX at 8:05 PM on December 3, 2001


Next up - "That Thing Will Never Fly" by Kitty Hawk Local.
posted by GriffX at 8:07 PM on December 3, 2001


Hey normy, could the "ordinary" stand upright on its own? The Segway can. BIG difference.

I think that's probably the most interesting question about this technology, although I suspect its a 'big' difference rather than a 'BIG' one.

Yes, in mechanical terms, the ordinary could stand up on its own - simply lean it against a wall, or ride it and let momentum hold it up. Perhaps you'll say that answer's "cheating" or "evasive" but fundamentally, what's the difference? In any case, forces are being applied to maintain either machine in equilibrium. Whether those forces come from the road, a stationary object or a gyroscope are immaterial when considering the utility of the machine.

Its the applicability of the technology that's important. What problem does it solve? The ordinary and the technologies it directly inspired (light-weight chain-drive, pneumatic tires, steel tubing, tensioned structural members), although archaic technology to us, arguably had a massive impact on later society. In modern times the revolutionary (pun only slightly intentional) effect the humble bicycle had on urban and social development (the first time the working classes gained affordable individual transportation) is largely forgotten.

What problem does Segway solve? I've been trying to come up with an answer and the best I can manage is that it enables powered transportation with a very small footprint and extreme maneuverability. I don't dispute that's commendable and may have very useful applications, but the length of this thread and the varied responses in it suggest that a lot of people don't yet see it as revolutionary.

The low power consumption is also beneficial. But that's got little to do with gyroscopes and lots to do with battery technology. Its orders of magnitude more efficient than an SUV, but still won't beat a human on a bicycle. That dime's worth of electricity has still got to come from somewhere.

As a technophile, I find it all very fascinating - I'm looking forward to my skepticism being proven wrong - but I just don't see this causing GM (or Raleigh, for that matter) to lose any sleep.

Normy - so the balance and heading of early velocipedes were monitored and corrected thousands of times a second by several arrays of redundant on-board computers, right?

Yes - a human brain.
posted by normy at 8:37 PM on December 3, 2001


I am not sure if others noticed this or not, but when Dean Kamen unveiled Segway on Good Morning America, he kicked up the stand one the stationary unit. He was not allowed to move it, so he put the stand back on. I believe one of the anchors asked him about it, and he said that Segway needs to be in motion to balance it's self.

Later in the park, while stopping to talk to the cameras everyone had to sway it back and forth a bit to keep it balanced.
posted by riffola at 9:30 PM on December 3, 2001


I also noticed when I watched the abc
video that Diane Sawyer asks: "Is it safe?"
"Is it safe?"
Kamen says: "Does it seem safe?"

Not encouraging. I know the issue has already been explored and that many modes of transportation are dangerous, but if Kamen wants to change the world with these things....maybe he is actually trying to decrease world population.
posted by anathema at 9:52 PM on December 3, 2001


A Reuters story - more in-depth than any reportage I've seen so far - has it that Kamen's company has a Sterling engine in development, one that will be included in future editions.
posted by raysmj at 10:05 PM on December 3, 2001


I think you last people missed hist point in the ordinary bike post, read his last sentence
"
"IT"/"Ginger"/"Segway" places the rider's center of gravity almost directly above its wheels' axle. The wheels are small. There is a rigid column between the rider's legs.

"

hes talking about hitting something while on the ginger, and then having your crotch connect with the rigid column.
Thanks for making me feel like Jay Leno, explaining the jokes.
posted by Iax at 10:13 PM on December 3, 2001


No-one gets turned on by bland grey devices...

'You can have a Model-T in any color you want. So long
as it's black.'
posted by canoeguide at 11:29 PM on December 3, 2001


Later in the park, while stopping to talk to the cameras everyone had to sway it back and forth a bit to keep it balanced

Actually, I think the stand is just to save electricity of it constantly rebalancing itself. I got the feeling Kamen was swaying back and forth to show how fun it is, to show off a little. Did you see Sawyer and what's his name standing on theirs, dead still? I believe the segway is capable of keeping someone upright, even when stationary (his IBOT wheelchair/bot thing lets a rider "stand" up straight and still with the same technology).
posted by mathowie at 11:42 PM on December 3, 2001


You're saying that this won't change cities? Sure, it won't be the Segway, but it will be technology like this.

I was thinking about it during the commute home this evening, and realized a couple of things.

First, I have a feeling that when Jobs said cities would change, he was saying that people will love riding these things so much, they'll find a way to build cities around them. Segway looks fun!

Second, why do we assume it will have to be the urban centers that change first? Maybe it will be suburbs... mega-malls could be bigger than ever, perhaps with parklike spaces between scatterd buildings rather than the vast car-filled lots we have now. Could be offices around there too... future city centers might spring up around these areas while the old ones choke on their own congestion.

I don't expect to see anything change immediately, or even within the next few years. But I'd be pretty surprised if, say, 50 years from now, we *don't* have people living/working/playing in environments different from those we have now, tooling around in/on a new class of vehicle that we've seen today for the first time. What will my grandkids say was the most important event of 2001? I'm not at all sure.
posted by greengirl at 11:51 PM on December 3, 2001


normy said:
Yes, in mechanical terms, the ordinary could stand up on its own - simply lean it against a wall, or ride it and let momentum hold it up. Perhaps you'll say that answer's "cheating" or "evasive" but fundamentally, what's the difference? In any case, forces are being applied to maintain either machine in equilibrium. Whether those forces come from the road, a stationary object or a gyroscope are immaterial when considering the utility of the machine.

It's not "cheating" or "evasive"; it's wrong. If a wall or momentum are keeping the machine upright, it's not doing it on its own. And that is a significant difference. This seems too elementary to point out, but you can't ride a bike while it is leaning against a wall, and you can't use momentum to balance the bike when you are stationary. Now, I don't pretend to know the ramifications of this technology or the technologies that it will directly inspire, but I don't think anyone here does either.

And asking what problem Segway solves is a moot question, in a way. It's not so much solving a problem as it is trying to provide an alternative. It is different from any other form of transportation out there. Instead of comparing it to other vehicles, try and think of positive applications for this unique device.

If this thing is as stable as it appears, I wonder if the technology could be used to improve aircraft, watercraft, and hovercraft stability.

Also, from looking at the patents, it appears that everything about the Segway represents cutting edge technology, including the battery and the engine. I'd love to see what effect this has on the electric car industry.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 12:23 AM on December 4, 2001


Thanks for making me feel like Jay Leno, explaining the jokes.

Um, got the joke. Just not. that. funny.

(much like jay leno)
posted by dantheman at 12:24 AM on December 4, 2001


I wasn't joking. I was concerned about what will happen to the occupant of this thing in the event of rapid decelleration.

but you can't ride a bike while it is leaning against a wall, and you can't use momentum to balance the bike when you are stationary

And you can't ride a Segway that isn't held up by a gyro - so what?
posted by normy at 6:26 AM on December 4, 2001


Well, at least it's not the Springwalker or the PowerSkip... (heads up, cool movies on that second link.)
posted by Fofer at 9:10 AM on December 4, 2001


And you can't ride a Segway that isn't held up by a gyro - so what?

Oh, you could still ride it -- but the fact that it doesn't fall down makes it safer (than, say, a bike or skates) to (a) mix with pedestrians, (b) be used by semi-ambulatory people, (c) be used in a warehouse or other work situtation, etc.

I think application (b) alone makes this totally revolutionary. Why use crutches when you can rent a Segway for a few weeks?
posted by greengirl at 9:36 AM on December 4, 2001


That ain't It!

Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and a friend of Kamen's who is familiar with the project, said those who are disappointed that the scooter doesn't live up to the hype might be jumping the gun. The scooter announced yesterday, he said in an e-mail, is not ''It.''
''Dean Kamen still has a few more tricks up his sleeve,'' Metcalf wrote, ''and you ain't seen nothing yet.''

posted by xiffix at 12:33 PM on December 4, 2001


So can it get up curbs or stairs ?

If you look at the diagram in the patent (Fig 21 p.14) you can see it has three wheels on the side in order to climb up stairs like his iBot wheelchair, I wonder why this didn't make it through to the Segway....
posted by zeoslap at 12:52 PM on December 4, 2001


That ain't It!

Maybe Segway is a segue between what we have and IT.
posted by Neale at 1:21 PM on December 4, 2001


Yesterday's announcement made no mention of another area in which Kamen is known to be working, and which fueled speculation about the scope of his project: the Stirling engine. The Stirling holds the potential to be highly efficient, but so far has proved impractical for transportation.

Kamen did mention the Stirling engine thing in at least one interview, as noted earlier in this thread.
posted by raysmj at 1:51 PM on December 4, 2001


Normy, the gyro is PART OF THE MACHINE. The wall is not part of the bicycle, nor is momentum. I feel like I'm explaining this to a 5-year-old. If you're willing to take the second wheel off your bike, then we can take the gyro out of the Segway and have a valid comparison. I.e. they are both equally useless unless you are a circus clown.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 2:05 PM on December 4, 2001


they are both equally useless unless you are a circus clown.

And a no-talent ass clown at that.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:10 PM on December 4, 2001


Why is all this ad hominem suddenly necessary? Sorry if any unintentional offense caused... I'll leave you guys to it.
posted by normy at 3:48 PM on December 4, 2001


Whoa. I was certainly not making any type of ad hominem comment. From watching my brother eat gravel after trying to pop a wheelie on his yellow banana-seat Schwinn, I came to the conclusion at an early age that such stunts should be left to circus clowns. That's all I meant.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 3:55 PM on December 4, 2001


normy: read this link re no-talent ass clowns
posted by ParisParamus at 4:19 PM on December 4, 2001


Ha! So ParisParamus was simply making an inside joke that seemed like an ad hominem. Poor normy.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 9:41 PM on December 4, 2001


It wasn't my "joke," but obiwanwasabi's. My jokes are all indoors, not inside. Or on the porch.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:50 PM on December 4, 2001


I really don't know what to make of all this hype, but I know one thing for sure.
My 75 dollar bike stands on it's own just fine.
You see, there's this kickstand..
But wait! for $2, 925 dollars more, I don't have to have a kickstand?
Count me in!
posted by bradth27 at 11:47 PM on December 4, 2001


Staggering logic, bradth27.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 12:34 AM on December 5, 2001


This would be good if it meant cities would convert car space (roadways and parking) to Segway space, but that's not what would happen. If this thing became popular, people would still drive. In fact, they would drive bigger vehicles to accommodate two to five Segways from home to the mall or work, where they would unload their Segways and load their asses on to Segways. Malls and business centers would become vast cavalcades of gaudy passengers on whining Segways.

Luckily, there would also be easy and enjoyable ways to jam these things.
posted by pracowity at 1:09 AM on December 5, 2001


Segway: the "Blair Witch" of the scooter world.

Hype != Substance.

Now he's doing it again. I wish Mr Kamen would hurry up and finish his inventions before he whispers sweet nothings in our collective ears.
posted by walrus at 3:44 AM on December 5, 2001


pracowity: In fact, they would drive bigger vehicles to accommodate two to five Segways from home to the mall or work....

Not necessarily. My PT Cruiser could hold two or three of them (if not more); it's still a small vehicle and gets better gas mileage than an SUV. And with the recent small return of the station wagon (the Hyundai Elantra GT and Mazda Protege5), people wouldn't necessarily need bigger vehicles to transport them - just roomier ones.

I'm impressed with the Segway. I don't think it'll change the world as we know it in 2002, but I think it has the potential to profoundly change our world over the next 10 years or so.
posted by hijinx at 8:28 AM on December 5, 2001


OK a simple exercise.

Imagine:

a) It was a sleek iPod designer looking craft.
b ) It was engineered so as to be impossible to crash into other pedestrians or craft at a dangerous speed.
c) It could travel for a week on a single 10c charge at up to 20mph non stop.
d) It had sophisticated anti theft measures built in (including tracking).
e) It cost around $900.00.

Would that make a difference to its potential appeal?
posted by Duug at 9:04 AM on December 6, 2001


Heh. I was reading old issues of magizines today and saw an article about this. What a surprise that I find a link to this thread on the MeFi mainpage.
posted by pete at 12:40 PM on December 6, 2001


The Segway Web site that nobody's mentioned...
posted by yarf at 8:03 AM on December 7, 2001


So the thing weighs 80 pounds (according to the site, anyway), and let's say that there's another 140 to 160 pounds of person on it, moving at 12 - 17 mph.

Then they hit somebody.

Real easy way to give them a skull fracture, or a compression spinal fracture, or a broken leg...

(That's like being hit by a linebacker moving at a good run).

The only way it'll revolutionize cities is by making peds afraid to take to the sidewalk.

And let's face it, somebody who's too lazy to walk for 15 minutes isn't going to lug 80 pounds of IT around either.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2001


Actually, I like this link.
"Segway is...talking to...the Boston Police Department."

All I picture is a car chase, and then the guy running away wrecks his car, gets out of his vehicle and tries to run down the road, away from the police. At which time, the police calmly stop their car, pull a Segway out of the backseat, and then cruise to top speed on it, easily catching up with the runaway and taking him down...no shots fired.

Anybody for a little America's Most Wanted? Or a similar show?
posted by jacobw at 10:43 PM on December 8, 2001


Dave Winer got to try the thing out personally and reports on it.
posted by mmarcos at 6:14 AM on December 13, 2001


Dan Bricklin on the Segway. Intelligent article.
posted by mmarcos at 7:33 AM on December 19, 2001


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