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Segway Human Transporter

Segway Human Transporter

Availability: First come, first served for delivery starting March 2003. Limited quantity.

Description:
Available only from Amazon.com:

The Segway Human Transporter (HT) is a truly 21st-century idea. A two-wheeled electric vehicle that's practical, efficient, slightly miraculous, and an undeniably fun way of getting around, it's as different from a bicycle or motorcycle as the original personal computers were from their lumbering, mainframe predecessors.

Control
In our tests, we rode the Segway HT in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments. Zipping along on the little platform was so steady and comfortable, we quickly forgot how much technology was at work to keep us balanced. The Segway HT moves forward with cues from your body language--the subtle leaning you use to balance yourself while walking or running. When you lean forward, the Segway HT goes forward. A walking lean produces a walking rate, a steeper running lean can bring the machine to its top speed of 12.5 mph. The Segway HT stops when you right yourself again.

Steering is controlled separately with a small twist-grip on the left handlebar. The Segway HT's two-wheeled design makes it quite agile--it can do sharp turns and turn completely in place. Sharper turns require slight leaning into the turns, as you'd expect, but the Segway HT helps by actively regulating turn responsiveness based on your speed. One small complaint: using a throttle-like control for turns instead of acceleration did take some getting used to, but the inconvenience was minor and went away over time.

Overall, we were surprised how quickly we were able to get comfortable on the Segway HT. A novice can be underway in seconds (with supervision) and ascending ramps and turning figure eights in minutes. After training and a few hours of use, a rider should feel comfortable with a wide range of activities.

Riding
The Segway HT moves briskly along on both paved and rough terrain, taking ruts and potholes bumpily but with no loss of control, even for the beginner. Modest hills were ascended with ease and without much discernable effort. All things told, the Segway HT seemed rugged enough to provide reliable transportation in pedestrian environments ranging from rural trails to the sidewalks of a congested city. And utility aside, it's worth stating that the element of machine-assisted balance was a continuous delight. We simply had more control over our movements than we previously could have imagined possible. This was particularly true on downhill rides, where our body language had a degree of command over gravity so unusual that it produced a dreamy, floating feeling.

The Segway HT is not a medical device; if you can't easily stand upright or endure some jostling on varied terrain, it will not solve these problems for you. But while the Segway HT cannot provide balance that the rider doesn't already have, its responsiveness brings a subtle beauty to the rider's movements. We watched more experienced riders start, stop, swoop, and turn as gracefully as figure skaters. In fact, the machine's ease of use could create some overconfidence. The Segway HT has not suspended the laws of physics--its wheels need traction. While the machine will keep itself level under almost any situation we could imagine, a careless rider who drops a wheel over a curb, or tries to turn too quickly on a slippery surface, certainly could take a tumble. Segway advises that riders wear a safety helmet (like a bicycle helmet) and start out in the Beginner mode before moving on to the faster settings.

User-Friendly Design
The Segway HT's controls are simple. A single round display on the handlebars shows either a smiley face (meaning "get on") or a frown face ("get off"). A graphic surrounding the face indicates the battery level. The Segway has no brakes--slowing down involves the same process as acceleration--and its gentle rate precludes any need for a speedometer. We timed its startup speed from the off position to ready to ride: pressing an encrypted "key" to the key port (the key looks like a large watch battery on a plastic fob), hitting the start button, and waiting for the smiley face to come up took a little more than one second.

This machine is clearly designed for close interaction with pedestrians. Its footprint is only a bit wider than a large man, so we were able to do things like ride comfortably in an elevator with another Segway HT rider and a pedestrian, with an almost disappointing lack of bustle or incident. The machine can haul 75 pounds of cargo and still support a 250-pound person, though you'll need to use the HT's soon-to-come mounted accessory bags for any serious buying trip.

Usability
Having ridden a Segway HT, we think almost anyone would be delighted to try this machine. Inevitably, however, one must ask about how usable it is. Clearly, it isn't a car: it won't carry multiple passengers or much luggage, go long distances, or protect you from the elements. Still, we thought of many circumstances where the Segway HT could be a fun and practical alternative to other modes of transportation. We can see potential users as regular folks traveling to and from work each day, students and professors in college towns, city dwellers who take many short trips, retirees in Sunbelt resort communities, vacationers traveling with RVs, and people with easy access to nature trails and walkways.

Well-Built Construction
We had the opportunity to look into the guts of the Segway HT in its pre-assembled state. Inside it was clean and simple, and the few moving parts, such as the gears, struck us as rugged and well made. There are no cooling fans; the circuits and engine are cooled through their contact with the platform's heat-drawing aluminum casing. Each finished HT is tested both at the software level and for quality riding on an obstacle course in the assembly plant. See the technical specifications for more information.

Conclusion
We're convinced that anyone who tries a Segway HT will be smiling in minutes. The other advantage is that early purchasers will certainly be the first on their blocks to have one. But for how long? We think we'll all be seeing much more of the Segway HT in the future. --Erik Hammen

Pros:

  • Very high build quality
  • Environmentally friendly, extremely energy efficient
  • Requires little storage space
  • Newness factor--you've never ridden anything like this before
  • Fun to ride, and looks cool

Cons:

  • Purchase price may be prohibitive for many potential users, though the cost is partially offset long term by nominal upkeep
  • Laws regarding legal riding areas (sidewalk versus street) vary from state to state
  • Minor inconvenience: rubber plug-in protectors on the machines seemed a bit loose, flopping around a bit on the more rigorously used machines, inconsistent with generally excellent build standards
  • Accessories, like carrying bags and lights, will not be available until spring 2003

From the Manufacturer
The Segway Human Transporter is the first transportation product to stand, balance, and move in the same way we do. It harnesses a unique technology called "dynamic stabilization"--the result of more than a decade of research, development and testing, and tens of thousands of hours in field trials--to constantly monitor and balance the Segway HT and rider.

The Segway HT allows riders to travel short distances in dense environments that would be prohibitive to other transportation devices. An amazingly elegant design makes the Segway HT a part of you, sensing subtle changes in your balance and responding immediately. The Segway HT has a level of maneuverability never before seen on wheels--it can balance in place, move forwards and backwards, and turn in place.

Purchase of a Segway HT includes a training session on its operation and features, in order to properly prepare a new rider for safe and enjoyable operation of this new technology.

Segway Human Transporter
Click to buy
Segway Human Transporter

Price: $4,495.00

Nonrefundable deposit: $449.00


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