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The Segway revolution has begun.
April 24, 2002 8:45 AM   Subscribe

The Segway revolution has begun. "Three Atlanta, Georgia organizations are the first to buy a fleet of Segway transporters." "Fleet," what a visually scary word. Forget priests touching little boys in naughty places and the numerous wars going on in this world, the fact someone actually bought a Segway is CNN’s new top story.
posted by Werd7 (33 comments total)

 
Anyone remember the Denis Leary skit about cops on bikes? I think the same thing applies here.
posted by goto11 at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2002


"Most are programmed to have a top speed of 12 mph."

How fast can they go when they aren't crippled by code?
posted by pracowity at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2002


electric one-person scooters that created a buzz when unveiled in December.
Boy, CNN got that wrong in the first paragraph. Segways didn't create a buzz when they were unveiled. That was when the buzz died. The moment people actually saw one of these things, their complete uselessness was so clearly apparent that all commentary virtually ceased. By the way, scottcramer, what was the Den(n)is Leary skit about cops on bikes? Who is Den(n)is Leary?
posted by Faze at 9:09 AM on April 24, 2002


How fast can they go when they aren't crippled by code?

How fast would you want to go on one?
posted by Grangousier at 9:11 AM on April 24, 2002


Faze, it is Denis. Here's the rant referred to - warning, geocities link. May crash without warning. (Much like cops on bikes, or segways. See how this all ties together?) Here's Google's cache of the site.
posted by yhbc at 9:18 AM on April 24, 2002


How fast would you want to go on one?

Just a little faster than everyone else.
posted by Opus Dark at 9:18 AM on April 24, 2002


yhbc, that was funny! Of course, I thought so only because it mirrored my own personal prejudices against people who ride bikes in the street and expect not to be killed. If I were on the other side of the question, I'd be quite offended.
posted by Faze at 9:38 AM on April 24, 2002


How fast would you want to go on one?

Fast enough that no one would recognize me riding the stupid-looking thing.
posted by brittney at 9:47 AM on April 24, 2002


Why the hell does CNN have Segways on the front page when there's a war going on in the Middle East?
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:31 AM on April 24, 2002


Segway jousts would be a keen way to settle that whole mess over there.
posted by dong_resin at 10:47 AM on April 24, 2002


Faze -- people riding bikes not in and with traffic are much more likely to get killed (or hurt at least). A recent study found that bicycling against traffic increases accident risk by 360%, bicycling on the sidewalk increases accident risk by 180%, and bicycling the wrong way on the sidewalk increases accident risk by 430% (Wachtel and Lewiston 1994).

The key seems to be that pedestrians are more willing to stop (and then look around) than cyclists on sidewalks. It'll be interesting to see if the Seqway users end up in the same dilemma.

Ok, sorry for the hijacking.
posted by daver at 10:48 AM on April 24, 2002


Faze, I don't think so. Until you've ridden one, you wouldn't understand...
posted by docjohn at 10:54 AM on April 24, 2002


Forget about Segway's being CNN's top story. It's now back to horny priests. Well, at least Blake isn't the top story again.
posted by Werd7 at 11:08 AM on April 24, 2002


the problem with segways is that they look funny and are essentially useless. the good thing about them is that they have some cool technology bundled inside.
posted by physics at 11:19 AM on April 24, 2002


dong_resin: Bwuahahaha. "Segway jousts". I can just se arafat and sharon with big sticks and dorky helmets.

Btw, whats with the helmets? I thought you stand as much chance falling from one of those things as you did walking or running.

Perhaps when segways get popular people'll hack the software to remove the top speed.
posted by delmoi at 11:29 AM on April 24, 2002


docjohn, So what's it like to ride a segway? Feel free to write vividly...
posted by Faze at 11:34 AM on April 24, 2002


ambassador force! i'll ride sidecar :)

i wonder what it's like to play a musical instrument on one?
posted by kliuless at 11:50 AM on April 24, 2002


segway? schmegway!
posted by quonsar at 11:57 AM on April 24, 2002


At $90,000 for 10, I wonder if those dorks who shelled out a hundred grand plus each are feeling a bit sheepish.

The Georgia Legislature passed laws limiting Segway speeds to 7 mph on sidewalks and 15 mph on roads, where riders will be required to wear a helmet.

Isn't the top speed 12.5 mph? Are these souped-up segways? Do I smell nitrous helium?

And even if you were 7 mph during a patrol, with a 17 mile limit "on a single charge!" thats what? A little under 2 and a half hour ride/patrol? Would they have to time themselves as to not run down the battery too fast?
posted by RubiX^3 at 12:07 PM on April 24, 2002


The speed limit a Segway HT can travel is governed by the Intelligent Key. Each Segway HT comes equipped with a number of such keys, to allow the user to become accustomed to using it at lower speeds.

It's fun, needless to say, and quite unlike riding anything else available today. There are numerous, well-written accounts online of how it feels to ride it, some of which may be found here.
posted by docjohn at 12:19 PM on April 24, 2002


I await the first segway-jacking with baited breath. Or is that eager anticipation? I'm not sure.
posted by vbfg at 12:21 PM on April 24, 2002


I'm trying to figure out how this is not an overpriced Zappy! or a scaled down golf cart. Granted the last time I worked a conference at the Indianapolis Conference Center I quickly noticed the appeal of an electric vehicle for security and management folks. But still, electric bicycles are cheaper and get better mileage than the Segway.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:23 PM on April 24, 2002


I'm sure that's exactly what people were asking around the turn of the century...

"I'm trying to figure out how this is not an overpriced carriage without a horse. Horses are cheaper and don't break down as much as these automobile thingys."
posted by docjohn at 12:53 PM on April 24, 2002


I'm sure that's exactly what people were asking around the turn of the century...

"I'm trying to figure out how this is not an overpriced carriage without a horse. Horses are cheaper and don't break down as much as these automobile thingys."


Perhaps. On the other hand I don't think that is the case here.

1: The Segway repackages existing transporation technologies that have been languishing in the marketplace for over a decade with a $9,000 price tag. It reminds me of a joke at the local natural foods store that best way to get yuppies to eat grits is to call it "polenta" and charge quite a bit more money for it. Call it "grits" and no one will touch it, call it "polenta" and suddenly you have a new gourmet food craze. Even so at 10X the cost of existing technology that offers the same functions the markup is a bit much.

2: The additional features (the 5 gyroscopes and balance system) of the Segway are available for free in most human beings. For those people who have balance problems, the balance issue can be solved mechanically (seated electric carts).

So the question is not analogous horse vs. auto, but more analogous to famous auto failures that offered unneeded extras at a higher cost. Perhaps the best thing about the Ginger is that the "wow" factor might make people look at Zap! and ask, "why should I pay $9,000 for a Segway when this scooter offers the same range and speed for $700?"
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:08 PM on April 24, 2002


According to this article (page 2), they're making ruggedized version for US Special Ops forces.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:22 PM on April 24, 2002


Segways won't be available to consumers for another year. The average price is expected to be about $4,000.

For some reason, I thought it'd cost less, what with the whole third world countries will benefit most angle.
posted by Tacodog at 1:28 PM on April 24, 2002


Why the hell does CNN have Segways on the front page when there's a war going on in the Middle East?

Probably because the footage was shot mostly across the street from their Atlanta studios, at Centennial Park. You know how lazy photographers can be.

More on their Atlanta Police debut, including the fact that their now retired horseback patrol of ten to twelve officers and mounts was costing the city $350,000 a year. And Segway-jackings? Officer Kilgore can't see anyone making off with his wheels while he's making an arrest. "Each Segway has its own magnetic, coded key [...] Without that key, you've got an 80-pound paperweight."
posted by PhotoDude at 1:50 PM on April 24, 2002


Where are people supposed to ride these things? They're too slow to be out in traffic. Putting them on sidewalks seems downright dangerous. I live in a very pedestrian-oriented neighborhood with busy, crowded sidewalks. Dodging cyclists, skateboarders and crazy people with shopping carts already makes taking a walk an adventure. I don't want to have to dodge scooters, too. Perhaps special scooter lanes are in order...for all kinds of scootin' machines.
posted by gutenberg at 3:00 PM on April 24, 2002


looks like the police department in athens ga will be borrowing some of these from atlanta to try them out.
posted by hazelmeg at 4:37 PM on April 24, 2002


Earlier Segway articles have mentioned ones that are customized for the military and go some ridiculous speed like 50 miles an hour.

I can see the banner adds for modded Segway hotrod keys now.

The best review I've seen yet for the things is Dan Bricklin's experiences.
posted by anildash at 4:58 PM on April 24, 2002


The whole "segway for the people" looks to me like a big marketing ploy. This thing is destined for commercial/law enforcement use. There really just isn't room on a typical downtown sidewalk to accommodate a segway. That's a problem for you and me, but not for the police. People will make room for cops, but for the yuppie on the go, it ain't gonna happen. Commercially you're on your own property so crowds are not going to be issue there either.

The theory is the world will fall in love with these and "build cities around them." Well, the bicycle has been around for ages and despite thousands of protests and a militant pro-biking lobby there sure aren't enough bike lanes to get from point A to B. At least here in Chicago. I don't see why the segway will win where bicycles have failed, especially at their prohibitive prices.
posted by skallas at 5:36 PM on April 24, 2002


Buying those things can't be helping the city's budget crisis...
posted by Spinderella56 at 7:29 PM on April 24, 2002


Atlanta didn't buy them. They're evaluating them (for free).

Six of the 65-pound machines, or "human transporters," as inventor Dean Kamen calls them, have been loaned to Atlanta police free for 60 days.

Another 10 have been bought for $9,000 each by the city's Ambassador Force, Central Atlanta Progress and Georgia Power, according to Atlanta Regional Commission spokeswoman Julie Ralston.

------from the AJC

These other groups are not the City of Atlanta, but private and commercial groups.
posted by jpburns at 6:11 AM on April 25, 2002


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