Happy Birthday to Segway

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

That vision hasn’t quite come to fruition and it’s pretty infrequent that you see someone using a Segway. They are still around and have recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. So while they may be termed a tech failure, they're still alive and kicking.

How do they work though? Below we’ll take a look at the tech behind the Segway.

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 standard household electrical socket. Five gyroscopic sensors, two tilt sensors, and two computers with specialty software keep the Segway from tipping over.

Making the Segway Move

The user plays the biggest role in making the Segway move. By simply shifting your weight in the direction you would like to go and moving the handlebars a little, the Segway’s sensors acknowledge the modification in balance point and react appropriately. The most recent version of the Segway features a top speed of 12.5 MPH. For obvious reason, it performs best on flat surfaces.

Lowered Expectations

The hype was pretty big around the Segway when it was initially introduced, but it never quite lived up to it all.  Some even predicted that the Segway would be more popular than the Internet as a whole!

Unfortunately, once the Segway was released many thought it looked strange and you looked weird riding one. Others thought it looked dangerous. Regardless, the negatives were enough to keep the Segway from reaching its stated potential.