Personal Transporter. (Innovation and Impact)

The Futurist, July-August 2002 | Go to article overview

Personal Transporter. (Innovation and Impact)


It's faster than walking and more maneuverable than driving: It's Segway, personal transportation system recently introduced in a glow of publicity. Segway's makers hope it will reach the consumer market in time for the 2002 Christmas shopping season. Expected retail price: $3,000-$4,000.

Innovation: Segway Human Transporter (a.k.a. "Ginger") is an electric-powered variation on a scooter, allowing the rider to stand with feet in a normal position rather than with one foot in front of the other. The key breakthrough is a dynamic stabilization system using gyroscopes and tilt sensors that continuously monitor the rider's center of gravity to maintain balance. Leaning slightly will direct the transporter forward or backward. It is designed as an alternative to walking, not driving, and can be used indoors or out.

Impacts: Faster delivery of the mail and increased productivity in warehouses are potential benefits. Large public spaces such as airports and shopping malls are also ideal spots for improved personal transportation. Segways could also be equipped with tow hooks for baby buggies or small trailers or wagons to help cart luggage and groceries, making them even more useful to pedestrians.

As Segway enhances an individual's power and mobility, it could do for city dwellers what the car did for rural dwellers--increase access to services. …

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