What do you think of when you hear the name Segway? If you’re like many out there, “tech failure” pops into your head. Dean Kamen’s invention of the Segway PT scooter was speculated to revolutionize personal transportation. The Segway was meant to usher in a new era of errand running and puttering around town.
That hasn’t happened. However, Segways are still around. In fact, Segway celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011, and it’s not completely uncommon to see the devices zipping along downtown sidewalks. That’s a rather amazing feat for a tech “failure.”
How do they work though? Below we’ll examine the tech powering the Segway.
Powering the Segway
Each Segway PT is powered by electric motors which are, in turn, fueled by phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries. Segway owners can charge these batteries by plugging their Segways into common household electrical sockets. The device doesn’t fall over thanks to its two computers loaded with proprietary software, pair of tilt sensors, and five gyroscopic sensors.
Making the Segway Move
Users play a role in making the Segway work too. When riders need to go forward, they move a control bar away from themselves. When they want to move backwards, they move the same control bar closer to their body. The Segway notices a change in its balance point and adjusts the velocity to keep its riders balanced. To steer, riders tilt a handlebar in the direction in which they want to move. Today’s Segway PT can move up to 12.5 miles an hour. It functions best, obviously, in communities that feature lots of sidewalks and other areas where the Segway can properly motor.
Experts touted that the Segway would become a bigger deal that Internet. Clearly the device did not live up to that level of hype!
Of course, we all know what happened. The Segway looked odd, and people looked strange riding it. Which was enough to prevent the Segway from taking off as its promoters anticipated.