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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.