Segway Human Transporter "
* First come, first served for delivery starting March 2003
Exclusively at Amazon.com! You won't find
Segway anywhere else.
Nonrefundable deposit: $495.00
(due now for 2003 delivery)
Availability: Deliveries will
begin on a first come, first served basis beginning March 1,
2003, and all units reserved through this special offer will
be delivered by July 31, 2003.
quantity: Only two per customer during this special launch
only at 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
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
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
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
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.
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 Hammen
* 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.
Science behind the Segway___
Balance Sensor Assembly (BSA)
BSA, supplied by Silicon Sensing Systems, is an elegantly designed,
extremely robust, and yet incredibly sensitive piece of equipment.
This small cube, 3 inches on a side, is packed with five solid-state,
vibrating-ring, angular-rate sensors ("gyroscopes")
that use the Coriolis effect to measure rotation speed. These
tiny rings are electromechanically vibrated in such a way that
when they are rotated, a small force is generated that can be
detected in the internal electronics of the sensor. Each "gyro"
is placed at a unique angle that allows it to measure multiple
directions. Segway's onboard computers constantly compare the
data from all five gyros to determine if any of the five is
supplying faulty data--in this condition, it can compensate
and use data from the remaining sensors to continue balancing
through a controlled safety shutdown. Two tilt sensors filled
with an electrolyte fluid provide a gravity reference in the
same way your inner ear does for your own sense of balance.
The BSA is monitored by two independent microprocessors and
is split into two independent halves for redundancy. Even the
communication between sides is performed optically to avoid
electrical faults on one side propagating to the other.
Segway HT's motors are unique in a number of respects. Produced
by Pacific Scientific, a division of Danaher, they are the highest-power
motors for their size and weight ever put into mass production.
Each motor is capable of maintaining a power output of 1.5 kilowatts--that's
The motors use brushless servo technology, meaning there are
no contacts to wear, arc, and reduce performance. The magnets
are constructed of an incredibly powerful rare-earth material:
neodymium-iron-boron. Each motor is constructed with two independent
sets of windings, each driven by a separate board and motor.
Under normal conditions, both sets of windings work in parallel,
sharing the load. In the event of a failure, the motor is designed
to instantly disable the faulty side and use the remaining winding
to maintain control of the Segway HT until it can be brought
to a stop. The motor is carefully balanced to operate up to
8,000 rpm, allowing it to produce very high power levels in
a small package. Feedback from the motor back to the Segway
HT is provided by redundant, noncontact analog hall sensors
that sense the positions of magnets with no moving parts other
than the motor shaft itself.
Segway HT's gearbox, a joint effort between Axicon Technologies
and Segway, is constructed more like a precision Swiss watch
than a traditional gear drive from an automobile. A two-stage
reduction system provides a 24:1 reduction, allowing the motor
to operate at powerful, efficient speeds throughout the full
range of speeds of the Segway HT. Each gear is cut to a helical
profile, which creates a spiral engagement to minimize noise
and increase the load capability of the gears. The number of
teeth on each gear is chosen to produce noninteger gear ratios.
This means that the teeth will mesh in a different location
each revolution, maximizing the life of the gearbox. Our engineers
were so obsessed with the details on the Segway HT that they
designed the meshes in the gearbox to produce sound exactly
two musical octaves apart--when the Segway HT moves, it makes
music, not noise.
The gearbox is pre-assembled and lubricated, and is designed
to require no maintenance over the life of the Segway HT. It
has been tested for thousands of miles under severe conditions.
Wheel and Tire
was one of the earliest partners in the Segway HT design project.
The tires on the Segway HT have been designed specifically for
this product, using a unique tread compound (a silica-based
compound instead of traditional carbon-based materials), giving
enhanced traction and minimized marking on indoor floors, and
a specially engineered tubeless construction that allows low
pressure for comfort and traction while minimizing rolling resistance
for long range.
The tire is mounted on an equally unique wheel design: the wheel
is constructed of a sophisticated engineering-grade thermoplastic
chosen in partnership with GE Plastics. This composite material
allows light weight and excellent durability, and actually reduces
noise transmitted from the drive system. The wheel is molded
around a forged steel hub, eliminating fasteners that can loosen
over time. The attachment between this hub and the transmissions
incorporates a unique (patent pending) taper and hex design,
which allows a single nut to attach or remove the wheel while
retaining the security of multiple-bolt systems more typically
seen in conventional applications.
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