Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Segway into Florida's Future Inventor Meets with Lawmakers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Segway into Florida's Future Inventor Meets with Lawmakers

Article excerpt

Byline: Thomas B. Pfankuch, Times-Union staff writer

TALLAHASSEE -- Inventor Dean Kamen cruised the halls of the Capitol yesterday, showing off his Segway Human Transporter to anyone who was interested.

Certainly Kamen was in Tallahassee to display his device, a stand-up gyroscopically controlled motorized scooter that has captured intense news media attention since it was unveiled in December.

But he and the small crew of lobbyists and promoters with him yesterday had a larger purpose. The group is pushing legislation that would create a specific legal description of the device to pave the way for the sale of the product in Florida, creating millions of dollars in earnings for Kamen and his New Hampshire company.

The Segway is a nifty device consisting of a pair of wheels, a platform for the user's feet and a post with handles that allow a user to ride along in near perfect balance. The user glides at speeds up to 12.5 mph and can move forward and back or make quick turns simply by leaning the body or turning a small grip on the handlebar.

"It's awesome, it really is really cool," said Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Pembroke Pines, who sponsored a motor scooter safety bill last year.

Although public interest in the Segway is high, Kamen acknowledges that to sell in great numbers, the device must be legal for use on sidewalks. If limited to roadways like other motorized vehicles, users would be exposed to cars, trucks and buses that could cause injury or death in a collision, Kamen said.

"I wouldn't want my mother to use this thing if she had to ride it among cars," said Kamen, a multi-millionaire who also invented a portable insulin pump for diabetes patients and a wheelchair that can climb stairs.

If restricted to roads, the potential conflict with cars could scare people out of spending the $3,000 the Segway may cost. …

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