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The Segway, Five Years Later 340

Posted by Zonk
from the makes-a-guy-a-few-bucks-at-gen-con-every-year dept.
abb_road writes "The Segway was introduced with a promise to transform cities; BusinessWeek has an article on what the Segway has accomplished in 5 years, and how 'personal transportation,' and the company, have changed. From the article: 'The first Segway — a clean-running, technologically dumbfounding, fun-as-hell-to-ride device that was pretty much impossible to fall off of — was introduced to so much fanfare five years ago that the public-relations agency that helped engineer it still uses it as a case study in how to create a media frenzy. It may be an even better case study in media backlash. The initial euphoria had hardly worn off before a new consensus emerged: This was all much ado about a $5,000 scooter.'"
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The Segway, Five Years Later

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  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:03AM (#16044671) Journal
    Does anyone have the list of the cities redesigned to accomodate the Segway?
    • Re:Cities redesigned (Score:5, Informative)

      by musikit (716987) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:05AM (#16044691)
      Atlanta has a segway tour. it is near the Atlanta Underground.
    • by Scaba (183684) <<moc.aicnarfeoj> <ta> <eoj>> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:08AM (#16044717)

      Just make up a list and add it to Wikipedia.

    • Re:Cities redesigned (Score:4, Informative)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:11AM (#16044732) Homepage
      Well, I don't know of any- right now, that is. Keeping mind that if you actually had some real
      range to the things instead of what they're limited to by current battery technology (In other
      words, if a fuel cell or a Stirling Cycle engine could be made as the energy source for the
      electronics instead of Li-Ion batteries so that the things have a 50-150 mile range instead of
      the 10 or so that they currently do...) then there might be some re-working done because they
      ARE quite impressive. As it stands, they do a tour [segcity.com] of
      downtown Austin and San Antonio on them and it's supposed to be pretty popular.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by atokata (872432)
        ..but, think about the logistics of standing upright for 150 miles, at 12.5MPH. By my math, that'd be a twelve hour journey. Hope you're not trying to carry a heavy backpack the whole way.
    • by rblancarte (213492) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:27AM (#16044866) Homepage
      Does the banning by San Francisco count?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by the_wesman (106427)
      Honestly ... I remember that quote about how cities would be re-designed around the thing - was anyone anywhere actually expecting something like that to happen in 5 years? it may be that cities will be re-designed better to accomodate these wheelie dealies, but certainly not for a long time - first, you've got to have enough of these things on the street to justify it, then the money, not to mention the time

      first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rblancarte (213492)
        While I agree with you that the 5 year window is a short amount of time to really see changes takes place due to Segway, I think it is enough time that we would have:

        a. seen major proliferation of the device
        b. seen plans made by cites to accomodate them (if they are not yet implimented)

        I will have to say that we certainly have NOT seen (a). I won't say (b) hasn't happened either, because my city hasn't done it, but others might have.

        Overall, I think that the comment was a very silly one.
        • Re:Cities redesigned (Score:4, Interesting)

          by walt-sjc (145127) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:55AM (#16045096)
          Keep in mind that most cities still miserably fail at handling wheelchair traffic despite many many more years working on it. Hell, I STILL see brand-new sidewalks that don't have ramps. The stupidity of that is astounding. Keep in mind that the ratio of wheelchair users to Segway users is something like 500,000 to 1.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by UbuntuDupe (970646)
            Bingo. My mom, for 20 years a traffic engineer, also likes to point out how under the ADA, intersections have to have ramps for wheelchairs. But they don't have to have sidewalks actually, you know, leading to those ramps. (!) So everywhere you see these little slopes at the corners of an intersection, which lead to ... grass. Brilliant, folks. Just brilliant.

            That also, of course, makes it more difficult to get where you want to go by walking, but I think that's kind of by design. One of the "perks" o
      • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother AT optonline DOT net> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:02PM (#16045180) Journal

        Honestly ... I remember that quote about how cities would be re-designed around the thing - was anyone anywhere actually expecting something like that to happen in 5 years?

        Heck, they haven't even redesigned New York City to handle cars efficiently -- what made anyone think the Segway was going to force changes that millions of drivers couldn't?

    • Re:Cities redesigned (Score:5, Informative)

      by will_die (586523) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:20PM (#16045328) Homepage
      Not sure about the cities that redesigned themselves because of the Segway.
      However there are a bunch of cities that are probably forever changed by the Segway... they passed laws forbidding the use of electrical small personnel vehicles, Segways, electric bycycles,etc from being on the sidewalks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xtermz (234073)
      Philadelphia has many streets designed before cars were around, so the segway is a very good fit. Unfortunately at the price of a small car, most people aren't buying them.

      Market a segway for less than 1,000USD and even I'll buy one
  • The Segway (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kmhebert (586931) <kev&kevinhebert,com> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:05AM (#16044686) Homepage
    When "IT" was first announced, I thought Kamen had come up with a new form of fuel that would replace petroleum and really "change the world". So the scooter was kind of a let-down in comparison. Even so, I would love to have one and I imagine most people would. I just wouldn't want to pay for it!
    • I think IT's just the start. Kamen's got some designs he's trying to bring to
      commercialization that turn the Segway into something like what you're hoping
      for. If his designs for a Stirling are as good as he seems to think of them,
      you'd use it in the segway to give it much more range- and it would be a device
      that'd use different fuels (Hell, you COULD do a thermal atomic pile if you were
      sure it'd not get ruptured and get unbelieveable results with that...).

      It's got potential- I just think he released the S
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:34PM (#16045463) Journal
      Even so, I would love to have one and I imagine most people would. I just wouldn't want to pay for it!


      Well, see, that IRL is actually the whole issue and measure of a product's worth: whether you'd pay the price for it, or not.

      Because if we're talking as in "well, if it was free of charge, I'd get one", then you've covered pretty much everything in that category. I know wouldn't refuse a lot of things, if they were free, even if they're bloody stupid and/or I have no intention of using them more than once or twice. But if they cost 0$, hey, I can just chuck it in the garbage bin later and I've lost nothing, right?

      The problem is that IRL most things aren't free, and bang/buck is actually a very important criterion. There's a moment when you look at a toy and at it's price tag, and decide, "gee, it would be bloody _stupid_ to pay _that_ much for that." And many a product ends up a dud not because it's a stupid product per se, but because it's just not worth the price tag it comes with.

      And that's where the Segway failed. You're not the only one who wouldn't mind one for free. I wouldn't either. I don't think much of it as a means of transportation, but, hey, it might make a good high-tech toy to play once or twice with. But when you slap a $5000 price tag on that toy, it start's looking like a stupid toy for people with more money than brains. I could even afford that price very easily, but looking at it from a bang-per-buck perspective, it's entirely too little bang for that kind of buck. I can easily think a _lot_ of other stuff to blow my money on, that would be more useful, fun, or whatever.
    • Re:The Segway (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bigtrike (904535) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:48PM (#16045610)
      Why do you need all that fuel anyways? Moving around a 2000lb vehicle with over a million parts which requires 50 square feet of paved space everywhere you take it is not a great solution to get a 150lb occupant from one place to another.

      Even if there was a better fuel, the motor vehicle is still one of the worst possible solutions to the problem. The segway is not a great replacement as it doesn't provide protection from the elements. Even then, a $300 bicycle is much faster than a segway and much cheaper to own and operate.

      k.i.s.s.
    • Re:The Segway (Score:5, Insightful)

      by agallagh42 (301559) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:59PM (#16045721) Homepage
      The segway is a neat idea for a scooter, although it's a little expensive for what you get. It is by no means any kind of replacement for cars, even in an urban environment. There's two key features of cars that you'll never be able to implement on this kind of transportation device:

      1. Climate control. Even as simple as a roof and windows to keep out the rain, and a heater to keep out the cold. A $500 used Civic has that. The $5000 Segway does not.

      2. Secure storage. ie. a lockable trunk to store your stuff. Sure, it's not perfect, but in most areas you can reasonably sure your bags will still be in your trunk when you get back to wherever you parked it.

      So definitely not a car replacement. What Kamen should have been comparing it to was the bicycle. Unfortunately, the price/performance ratio still just doesn't add up when comparing to a basic $200 bike. You can carry just as much stuff on the bike, go just as fast, with no need to recharge it every night. You might get a little tired or sweaty, but if that's a major problem for you, see the $500 used civic. :)
  • by SirStanley (95545) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:05AM (#16044692) Homepage
    It's surprisingly not hard to fall off of a segway if you've never been on one before. You have no idea that you can't stand on it before it's been turned on. (I did that fell over caught myself)

    In addition. The Turning controls are on one of the handles and if you're drunk and jousting on Segways (Which is REALLY FUN btw.) falling off is pretty easy as well. I leaned to far forward which makes you go very fast I was attempting to charge through a hallway and while going fast I realized that I was quickly drifting towards the wall. I attempted to fix this but twisted to hard on the steering grip and it very quickly spun me in a 360 into the wall.. Which actually hurt pretty good. You don't have to be a president to fall off of one.
  • Case study? (Score:5, Funny)

    by E IS mC(Square) (721736) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:06AM (#16044696) Journal
    >>it still uses it as a case study in how to create a media frenzy. It may be an even better case study in media backlash.

    Well, its looking only half the picture. Best case study would be "How to create media frenzy, completly fail to deliver it, and still remain in business"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgeller (10260)
      Segway was inarguably a P.R. success. Public Relations doesn't control market acceptance, only market exposure. And they got that, in spades.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Moofie (22272)
        Seems to me like the only valuable thing for a PR firm to do would be to set peoples' expectations. If you overpromise and underdeliver, that's bad PR.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @02:03PM (#16046270) Journal
        The ultimate purpose of PR or marketting is to sell a product. That's it. That's why we pay those people.

        In the over-production economy of today it's damn easy to produce lots of anything, but it's hard to sell it. Insert your favourite product and major corporation manufacturing it, and it would be trivial for them to ramp their production to the point where it exceeds world demand. Nike or Adidas could swamp the world in sports shoes, Samsung could bury the world in TVs, and Coca Cola could easily ramp its production to the point where the whole human species could drink only that. That's not the problem. The problem is selling that stuff.

        _That_ is the problem that marketting and PR were supposed to solve. Plain and simple. That's why their clients pay for their services.

        A marketting or PR campaign whose backlash actually hurts product sales (e.g., Daikatana and the massive backlash to the "John Romero will make you his bitch" campaign), is plain and simple a flop. I don't know how you want to redefine PR's job, but from the client's point of view, he didn't get _his_ problem solved: selling more products. That's the real problem he had and needed solved. Anything else is just missing the point and solving the wrong problem.

        Just exposure is damn easy to get. You only need to fund a spam campaign or something equally stupid, and you'll get all the negative exposure you can possibly hope for. Or get your products to fail in some spectacular way. (Incendiary laptops with Sony batteries, anyone?) That'll get you in everyone's head. But that's not the exposure anyone actually wants.

        The trick is getting the kind of exposure that makes people actually want to buy the product. You need to get people to associate product with being cool, trendy, hip, or just having some benefit out of it. Stuff that makes them want to buy product X instead of product Y. (E.g., make them want Coca Cola instead of Pepsi or water from the tap.) That's really what the client pays for, and that's why he pays trained experts instead of just doing some hare-brained publicity stunt himself.

        Isolating half of the issue as "only that's my job, and it doesn't involve whether or not it helps you" is missing the point. Saying "my job is to create market awareness, it's not my job whether it also helps your business or kill it" is as stupid as hearing a surgeon say, "well, my job is only to cut you open, not to actually remove your appendix and/or make sure you survive."
  • by gr8whitesavage (942151) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:07AM (#16044702) Journal
    "pretty much impossible to fall off" - unless you are President Bush. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2989000. stm [bbc.co.uk]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RexRhino (769423)
      "pretty much impossible to fall off" - unless you are President Bush.

      So what you are trying to say is that President Bush can do the impossible? :p
      • by MECC (8478) *
        So what you are trying to say is that President Bush can do the impossible?

        Or that GB Jr can fail where his father suceeded (GB Sr managed to avoid falling alongside Jr). How telling. The funniest part in the article referenced in the parent post:

        The machine's creator, Dean Kamen, wants to see US Special Forces troops eventually ride Segways into battle.

        Just imagining that is all but too funny for words.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bladesjester (774793)
          As I get the mental image of a bunch of guys wearing desert camo, heavily armed, and playing segway polo as they roll into battle...
  • Cakewalk (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Doc Ruby (173196)
    "pretty much impossible to fall off of"

    Unless you [google.com] have clay feet [wikipedia.org].
    • What does Terry Prachet have to do with a segway? I have Feet of Clay and could stand on a segway!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jonny_eh (765306)
      It looks like he just didn't turn it on first. I'm sure it's a common mistake.
      Some of those pictures look like they were arranged to make it looks like he was riding, then fell off, which probably isn't true.
      • A device, whose sole trick is balance achieved electromechanically, should be smart enough to sense when a foot and a hand are on it and thus throw itself into balance mode. Sure, you'd need a key to actually go anywhere, but no on-board logic to help prevent you from falling on your face without following a prescribed power on sequence? Not even optionally? Bad design!

        My car has NEVER caused me to hurtle dangerously out of the driver's seat because I failed to turn a key.
  • by WoodstockJeff (568111) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:08AM (#16044713) Homepage

    If the article is all there is on this subject, then Segway hasn't accomplished much since the scooter was finished. They've thought about a lot of potentially neat things, but they're still just that - thoughts.

    Makes me want to run right out and put all my money into just about anything except Segway!

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:11AM (#16044731)
    but it's not the one its designer intended. Indeed, on a segway, you look like a total dork and you're dangerous (I was passed by one on the sidewalk, I can attest to this).

    But there's one area where segways excel, and that's giving a lot of freedom for disabled people to move around. Each time I hear about a segway story, it's about some handicapped person who finds it marvellous. Like this story [theglobeandmail.com] for example, or this one [nbc4.tv] which are rather typical.

    So in short: I reckon segways should be banned on public thoroughfares, and allowed anywhere for disabled people.
    • I've seen policemen using them at airports, where they're pretty effective at getting through foot traffic and covering a lot of ground quickly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by RCO (597148)
        Yeah, I've seen police using them too, and the first thought I had was "Great, now they get absolutely no exercise. The only thing they don't have is a place for their coffee and doughnuts." Granted, I was in a bad mood, so I may have been a little harsh with that thought.
      • by pimpimpim (811140)
        In both the police and the disabled case, the advantage is that you are positioned a bit higher. For policemen to have more overview, and be more easily found, and for disabled it must make a huge difference from sitting in a wheelchair, looking at people's bums all the time :( Really, in a wheelchair you always have to look up to people, it's nice that it can also be done the other way around. Still not at the same level as all other people, but at least you're in more control.
    • Actually the developer of the machine also built wheelchairs on the same technology and worked a lot cooler then the Segway.

      I saw a demo of one climbing stairs while remaining perfectly balanced. Hate to think what would happen if the power went out though.
      • by Svartalf (2997)
        In reality, he developed the tech for the iBot and tried to make it go a little
        further because of the potential. It's got that- it's just wasted because the
        Segway's got such limited range because it's using conventional electric storage
        technology. As for when the power goes out, what happens with people in power
        chairs when the juice gives out? You end up with this heavy-assed chair that's
        moderately hard (Heh... How about next to impossible, even AFTER you disengage
        the transmissions on the drive motors..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrXym (126579)
      Exactly. Segways have a genuine use for people who spend their lives going back and forth for their work, e.g. warehouse operators. These environments can be appropriately signposted and controlled by health and safety rules.

      The same is not true of a pavement. All you expect on a pavement are people using their legs and occasional wheelchair users. Unless there is something wrong with you, you should not be permitted to operate any kind of vehicle including a Segway on the path. Take your chances on the r

    • by anomalous cohort (704239) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:27AM (#16044865) Homepage Journal

      I took a segway tour this year while on holiday. I had never been on one before. In the 30 minute pre-tour class, the guide explained why G.W. fell off. Basically, he neglected to turn it on to balance mode. Rule # 1 is don't step on until you see the smiley face.

      It was fun but I prefer riding a bicycle because you get zero exercise on a segway. It's heartening to hear you describe how it is useful to the disabled. My mother loves to travel to foreign cities where she spends days walking. She is too old to do that so I was thinking that she could rent a segway instead. Do you think that the segway would be useful for the elderly too?

    • Unfortunately (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shivetya (243324)
      the problem I have with these machines is that some government agencies were providing to people who had fitness handicaps (lardasses) as a health benefit covered because of the ADA.

      Was really funny watching Atlanta issue a few of the machines to fat cops, cops who could not walk a beat if they had too. Seemed a few other government agencies began looking at these because of "union" rules interest.

      I would not mind the machines for people with genuine handicaps, but I certainly don't want to be forced to bu
  • by Mikachu (972457) <jjburke.hunter@cuny@edu> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:13AM (#16044742) Homepage
    How to render the Segway obsolete...

    BAM! Third wheel. [thebestpag...iverse.net]
  • Five years into the craze that’s sweeping the nation, I finally saw some in real life recently. I was on vacation in Hawai‘i and some tourists had rented a few to roll around the grass in Kapiolani Park.

    I though briefly about finding out where to rent them just so I could try one, but we had better things to do so we kept walking. I’m all for putting pedestrians on wheels and accelerating them to three times their natural walking speed, but I prefer getting some exercise [flickr.com] out of the deal. I
    • I spotted one in the movie, The Sentinel, crusing along a busy sidewalk in Washington DC. Product placement? I can't imaging them being legal for that purpose because of the danger to pendestrians, and they aren't street legal due to speed, no mirror, etc.
  • I remember the Wired articles, they were 100% pumped. They were so excited their brains were melting out of their ears. They wrote massive articles about IT even though they didn't know what *IT* was. Famous tech figures were crawling out of the cracks to say IT was the most amazing thing ever created, and that our lives would be changed. Needless to say the infection caught me, and I ended up being thoroughly disappointed.
    • Really? How do you praise something when you don't even know what it is? This reminds me of a memorable Duck Tales episode. The one where this salesman spends most of his own money marketing a product called "PEP" even though, the day before its launch, he hasn't decided what "PEP" is going to be. Do you have links to these articles?
  • Segways are great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 (184391) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:20AM (#16044801)
    My GF and I rented Segways on a recent trip to Montreal. It was a blast. We zipped all over the waterfront, testing it on inclines, gravel, etc. It's pretty amazing how steep a surface it can climb. I wished it could go faster, actually.

    These things could revolutionize cities, but it's not an overnight proposition because you're battling for real estate on the road with cars. Cities like Montreal, with extensive and sensible bike lanes/routes, make the most sense initially. But if they sold them in NYC, you'd really have to sell models equipped with miniguns to defend yourself against crazy taxi drivers.

    In any case, if you get the chance to take one for a spin, do. It's really fun.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:20AM (#16044803) Homepage Journal
    A few months ago I finally got the chance to ride a Segway, at the HOPE convention. They had rented a pair and sectioned off a safe area to zoom around in, and it was a load of fun to ride around the hotel's mezzanine while laughing like Pee-Wee Herman.

    However, there was also a little bicycle that someone left lying around, and I got the chance to ride around the mezzanine on that for a while, also while laughing like Pee-Wee Herman. That was also a load of fun, one that wouldn't cost me four-figures to duplicate, require me to remain standing, or control my direction with what may be the most unnatural steering mechanism ever.

    Both rides gave me a sore throat friom all that Pee-Wee Herman laughing, though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Josh Hiles (970528)
      But did the Sedgeway revolutionize your life?

      It totally changed mine, since I bought one I have been cured of my cancer, am in the best shape of my life and am dating a super model.

      But I just saw a commercial for a little magnetic bracelet that could fix that nagging lower back pain.

      Where's my phone?
  • The Hype! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ferrellcat (691126)
    Does everyone else remember the hype that swirled before the release of the Segway?

    Ginger!

    IT!

    A device so revolutionary and world-changing, that its codename was "IT"!!!

    After seeing it, Jeff Bezos was known to say "You have a product so revolutionary, you'll have no problem selling it."

    Bidders paid out over $100,000 EACH for the first three examples of a production Segway.

    Well, we all know how it went from there.

    I want to thank Dean Kamen for permanently calibrating my expectations when
  • by Bigboote66 (166717) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:24AM (#16044837)
    Like the article says, a $5000 scooter. There are electric scooters out there that could also be carried onto a subway car with you, but they're 1/20th the price [google.com]. Sure, they don't have the same range, or cool factor, but who the heck did Kamen think his market was? We're talking about a device to make it easier for people to get from public transportation hubs to their destination endpoints. These aren't the kind of people that have $5000 to waste on a personal transporter. You're talking about 10 years of bus transfers before it pays for itself.

    I live about a mile from nearby subway stations, and have been known to be an early adopter - a perfect candidate for a Segway (other than the fact that I'm not sure about it's viability in Boston winter conditions). I told myself that I'd buy one once they got down to about $1500. Well, it's five years later and the price hasn't budged. If they really wanted to change the world, they would have figured out a way to sell them for $1000.

    -BbT
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Less than 1/50th [yahoo.net] the price. Not insignificantly, 22lbs is light enough to carry if it breaks down. The lightest Segway is 70lbs. When it breaks down (or, more often, shuts down with an Out Of Cheese error), you might as well call a tow-truck.
  • A few points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:25AM (#16044846) Journal
    • This thing was *so* ludicrously overhyped that there was no way it couldn't be a disappointment. That it turned out to be classic "good advertising kills a bad product" was icing on the cake.
    • Somebody here hit it right on the nose five years ago -- during the dot-com boom there were rich stupid dorks with money to spend on something like this. But not in 2001.
    • Five years later, I've never seen one in person, and I live in one of the two or three most tech-heavy cities in the world. The Segway may well be fun, but it doesn't look at all fun to me in pictures and the company has never bothered to market them intensively enough to show me otherwise.
    • As skeptics pointed out from day one, the Segway has no advantage for commuting or transportation over cheaper, simpler existing devices (feet, bicycles, handicapped scooters) in real-world situations.
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:26AM (#16044860) Homepage Journal
    If the Segway was introduced at $500 instead of $5000, it would have changed the world. Technologially, there doesn't seem to be anything about these things that absolutely prevent them being made at a marginal cost of less than $500, given enough unit sales to amortize fixed costs and manufacturing investments over. Which really means if you had an infinite amount of investment money and unlimited time to recoup it in, eventually you would recoup it. Which is not saying much at all. The Apple Newton would have changed the world if it had been introduced at $100 instead of $1000, and there is little reason to think that we could not, today, produce them for less than that.

    It seems to me that changing the way people move in and out of cities is a catch-22 phenomenon. No matter how compatible your new idea is with existing modes of transportation (which the Segway, in truth, was not), you need the city to provide infrastructure before it will be widely adopted. And cities won't provide infrastructure until there is widespread adoption. The only way around this is to price the thing at a level where a lot of people will simply say "what the hell" and start using them, creating a problem that cities have to respond to. People are so much better at responding to problems than planning.

    Truthfully, cities don't make more than token concessions to bikes, which compared to supporting Segways are much simpler to accomodate. Some cities even don't seem to give a damn about pedestrians. The only way to change this is the same way that automakers killed public transit: be willing to lose a lot of money in order to make not using your product inconvenient for people.

  • Segway Knock-offs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by randomErr (172078) <ervin DOT kosch AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:27AM (#16044875) Homepage Journal
    I've been waiting for a Segway knockoff to appear so I could actually afford a similar device.
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      I've been waiting for a Segway knockoff to appear so I could actually afford a similar device.

      You're going to have to wait a long time:

      http://www.delphion.com/details?&pn=US05971091__ [delphion.com]

      I do like the Centaur [segway.com] and I can't find them anymore but there was another segway like thing for handicapped people that was like a wheelchair that grew so that the person was at eye level. That looked like it kicked ass for people confined to a wheelchair.
  • Ok, shouldn't an article discussing the success (or failure) of a new product mention at least once how many of the darned things have been sold?

    "Thousands have sold, but not nearly as many as Segway hoped for." is altogether vague. Is that 1000 a year? Or 400 a year?

    After five years I can count on one hand the number of Segways that I've actaully seen. That suggests that they have been much less than smashing sucess.
    • by Cheeze (12756)
      Who has $5k to blow on a toy?

      If they were $50, there would be many, many more of them out in the streets.
  • 9/11 Effect? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Schnapple (262314) <tomkidd@@@viatexas...com> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:30AM (#16044897) Homepage
    The Segway was unveiled in December, 2001, meaning it was a scant three months and change after 9/11. I've always thought that something that hurt the Segway in the marketplace was the fact that here was the USA (where the thing was unveiled, invented, target market, etc.) recovering from its worst attack in history (terrorist or otherwise), the economy is in the shitter, and here's some eccentric genius trying to get everyone excited about a $5,000 scooter.

    Perhaps the Segway would have met the same "meh" fate either way but does anyone think that, had 9/11 never happened, the Segway would have met a better response?
    • by mugnyte (203225)
      9/11? I doubt it. The segway is mostly a marketing boondoggle IMHO:
      • There is a narrow band of physically handicapped that it serves (there was already a wheelchair by Kamen's company that aided the "sitting style").
      • It only replaces walking, which is by far the number-one necessary motion for our population's health.
      • It weighs more than it's intended market can safely lift.
      • It performs poorly compared to a bicycle. (integration systems with autos, variations in design/collapse-ability, maintenance)
      • It cos
  • 1. It's not clean running. just because it's electric does not mean it's "clean" there's a smokestack/nuclear plant/mam somewhere charging its batteries. And it is SIGNIFICANTLY less clean that walking.

    2. The biggest issue I have though is why encourage people to get less exercise than they get already? This has bugged me since I read the first over-hyped preview of the Segue. People should be encouraged to walk. Not to drop 5g's so every form of exercise they can possibly get should be removed from their l
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:34AM (#16044942)
    I made a post that, in order for it to be successful, it must do the following.

    1) Be an order of magnitude cheaper

    2) Break down into a package small and light enough to carry on public transportation

    Otherwise, it's just an expensive glorified electric scooter

    I stand by my original accessment...
  • It's like a really slow motorcycle or a really expensive electric razor (those two wheeled scooters) that you can't take inside a building. All it really did was make traffic cops more prone to being overweight since they don't have to walk their beat.

    Seems to me that anywhere the Segway can go, a person can walk or bike just as easily (or more easily). The people who could actually make use of it, the elderly, probably shouldn't risk riding one as even a multi-talented President can fall off of one.
  • Alas I'm in London so I've never seen one. Do they make a noise? How long do they go for inbetween charges?
    • You won't either (a fellow Londoner writes) thanks to saome barmy rules from the Department of Transport. In the UK Segway's are illegal to drive on the roads but they are also illegal on pavements. The only place you can ride one is on private land. Logic, it'll help us in the long run - Bill Hicks.
      • by AGMW (594303)
        I live in Surbiton [wikipedia.org] and there's a chap around here who has one, and uses it to get to the train station, and for his onward journey from waterloo [wikipedia.org] presumably to work. It does look seriously cool, but maybe no cooler than another fellow who uses roller blades.

        If I had 5K to spare I might have one to gather dust next to my bicycle that I hardly use either!

        It's all dressed up with no where to go.

  • One of the big problems with portable transportation devices (bikes, pocket motorcycles) is that by their very nature they help thieves get away with the loot all the quicker.

    Are you going to have to bring a kryptonite lock to secure your segway every time you go to the grocery store? Is it even designed for that? (having something just as strong as the lock to bolt onto, otherwise locking it would be pointless).
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:43AM (#16045004) Homepage
    ... the cost of these things is impractically high right now. Once competition is allowed to play, we'll see hundreds of knock-offs from other companies at rates that make them practical. By that time, they'll be even better with fuel cells and better batteries.
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:43AM (#16045008) Homepage Journal
    Someone made a "segway" with the old Lego MindStorms kit :
    http://www.teamhassenplug.org/robots/legway/ [teamhassenplug.org]

    I can see the Segway being expensive for being an electric scooter, but 5000$USD is way too expensive.
  • I think I've found one which matches the Segway's promise [wikipedia.org].
  • Nothing to see in Toronto - they were banned in late 2005. Not that the people who scream down the sidewalks on motorized carts, or the bicycles that think the sidewalk and intersections are for them and stop lights, stop signs and one way streets and such are only for cars pose any risk, oh no - only the Segway would pose a danger. Right.
  • by imsabbel (611519) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:59AM (#16045151)
    Standing on a spot for a longer time is actually LESS comfortable than walking around.

    I would rather walk than stand put on that little platform, as is.
    if it were twice as fast, then it would make sense (but than again, its autostabilisation would crap its virutal pants when dealing with 4 times the kinetic energy).

    I met one once in real live, and while it was faster than walking pace, i could effortlessly drive a lot faster on a bike (which is cheaper, has "unlimited range", a physical autostabilisation called "rotational inertia" and light enough to just pick up and carry up some stairs)
  • by kiddailey (165202) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:08PM (#16045239) Homepage
    ... it can't be impossible! :D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxtc75biScU [youtube.com]

    She almost had a shish-ka-Paris with that mop strapped to her backside.
  • The Segway is a solution looking for a problem.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

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