The Segway turned 10!

It wasn’t that long ago that inventor Dean Kamen thought his two-wheeled personal transportation device, the Segway, would revolutionize transportation. Sadly, the Segway has grown to be synonymous with technology failure. Kamen envisioned a future filled people zipping around town on a Segway PT scooter to run errands and travel to work.

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

Let’s discuss how the Segway really works though.

Powering the Segway

The Segway PT is powered by electric motors. Those motors are fueled by a number of lithium-ion batteries that are simply charged by a common household electrical socket. Five gyroscopic sensors, two tilt sensors, and two computers with specialty software prevent the Segway from falling over.

Making the Segway Move

The user plays the largest role in making the Segway move. By simply shifting your weight in the direction you need to go and moving the handlebars slightly, the Segway’s sensors acknowledge the change in balance point and react appropriately. The latest version of the Segway has a top speed of 12.5 MPH. For obvious reason, it works best on flat surfaces.

Lowered Expectations

The buzz was pretty big around the Segway when it was initially announced, but it never quite lived up to it all. Some even believed that the Segway would be more popular than the Internet overall!

However, once the Segway was released many thought it looked odd and you looked bizarre riding one. Others thought it looked unsafe. Regardless, the negatives were enough to prevent the Segway from reaching its promised potential.