My next door neighbor just bought a Segway for his wife. I looked out the window and saw her riding up and down our dirt road so immediately went over to check it out.
What a kick! I defy anyone to get on that and keep a smile off their face. She doesn't need it but just wanted it. Since her husband works for DEKA, he got a pretty good price. There is a whole squadron of them making the trip from Manchester to New York City as a publicity stunt right now.
Consider me envious.. I'm pretty set in my ways and not quick to like new stuff right away, I saw that thing and I wanted one. I was hearing about prices coming down significantly as production increased, hope it happens.
When I first heard about the Segway, I predicted that someone would invent a sport based on it-- maybe like a roller derby, where they try to knock each other over. And they'll have off-road versions with big knobby tires and extra large batteries...
The idea of running one on a methanol fuel cell, like the new NEC laptop, has some possibilities. Can it pull a trailer?
They had a demo where they were letting people ride them at the EAA convention at Oshkosh last week, but I didn't bother.
Grant Erwin wrote: : OK, I'll bite - what's a segway? - GWE --Considering the hype a huge disappointment. I expected more from Kamen. I've ridden one, they're fun, but they're not *that* fun. They're useful, but not *that* useful. Shank's mare will get you there just as well; probably healthier for ya, too. --I've heard there's already a foreign knock-off but even this supposedly costs several grand. If I had money to burn (like most folks buying them) I might get it as a "toy", but why bother?
The UPS guys around Seattle have been trying them out, as have some meter readers (gas company maybe?). They always look like they're have a blast. I asked the local UPS guy if he'd tried one yet and he grinned and laughed and said they were a trip. I did pass a dead one on a steep hill with the UPS guy fussing with it. Apparently above a certain slope they stall or overheat or something. He didn't look happy.
If you can "break" the elaborate safety programming inside the Segway that compares the two working batteries and starts a 10 second shut down routine if they differ, to allow using an alternative power source, then I would be afraid to ride it. If the power fails, you would do something a friend of mine calls "woodpeckering" -- driving your nose into the pavement as though you wanted to make a nose-sized hole in it.
Frankly I doubt that changing the programming is feasible or safe. It watches both batteries, prevents starting it up when it is charging (so you don't come to the end of the cord with a jerk?), monitors all the computers (there are
5 or 7, I think); if there are any problems, it shuts the thing down after warning you with sound and "stick-shake" (the whole machine vibrates alarmingly).
These things are so "impossible" that only when they are working perfectly can they work at all. Dean Kamen started as a designer of mission- critical medical devices, and seems to have done the right thing by making Segways about as fail- safe as you are likely to find anywhere. The manual has a number to call if anyone is ever hurt while riding your Segway (info gathering or spin doctoring, I don't know).
I have one and I love it. I've taught dozens of people to ride it (almost always with making them read the safety manual and watch the safety video -- about 1/2 hour total). With only two exceptions every single one had this huge grin; unfortunately one of the people who kept the grim-death expression on her face was my wife. She just couldn't relax on it.
Unfortunately Mrs. Grundy has raised her interfering head in a few places. My main town, Ann Arbor, MI, the island of Bermuda, and San Francisco have all effectively banned Segways. They must like people driving SUVs into the heart of downtown for some reason. They mix better with pedestrians than almost any other form of powered transportation. They could hurt someone by running into them at full speed, but so could one pedestrian run into another. I guarantee that in any collision between Segway and pedestrian, the Segway rider will come out hurt the most. Your feet are trapped between these two large wheels. If the Segway comes to a stop, you can't lift your feet high enough, fast enough to catch yourself; remember "woodpeckering"?