Can The Segway Balance Itself As A Platform, Not A Product?

from the plan-Z dept

Remember back in 2001 when there was all that hype (yes, us included) about some crazy new secret project from an inventor that would change the way people traveled? In the end, it just turned out to be a lot of hype for what became the Segway scooter. The balancing act was cool, but the usefulness (especially at thousands of dollars) was widely questioned. As many suspected, massive sales never materialized. In the meantime, the company went through a lot more top executives than product enhancements, leading many to wonder if the company would ever amount to anything. A few months ago, the company began exploring an IPO (which didn’t make sense, given how little they have to show on the financial side) and for at least the second time explored the idea of selling the Segway more like a car, with dealerships and leasing plans. However, it seems that the company has finally come to terms with the fact that the original idea that the Segway would change the way people travel was way oversold — and what’s really innovative wasn’t the Segway itself, but the concept of using the technology to build self-balancing devices. The latest CEO is now trying to push the company towards using its basic balancing technology as a platform to be used in other vehicles, including the very cars it was supposed to replace, rather than being focused on building the end-product themselves. It’s finally realizing that, while the technology was cool, perhaps the specific application of it didn’t really fill a need. It seems like a step in the right direction, but after everything Segway’s been through, it’s going to take a lot of work to get this new vision moving.

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Comments on “Can The Segway Balance Itself As A Platform, Not A Product?”

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®idiculous ©rap says:

ahh, the taste of disappointment

I remember the hype about the revolutionary new invention that will change the world. I was genuinely very curious. Until I heard the details, at which point I couldn’t care less. Whoop-de-frickin-doo. The next worthwhile thing that company does will be the first. Look for some saavy investors to buy the technology at firesale prices in the near future.

frist stop!

Gregg Hesling (user link) says:


The technology is actually quite simple, as this guy discovered when he built his own:

The real question is why Segway priced it so far out of the market.

If they were big enough to hold luggage, though, I’d rent one at the airport instead of the “smarte cart.” Does Segway’s new business model include leasing by the hour?

Myself says:

There's no substance here, either.

So wait, the article says the company might have new life because they could put their electric motors into cars?

Alright, sure, they got a pretty impressive power-to-weight ratio out of those motors. But that’s not the most important factor, unless you’re a university building a solar car where every gram counts.

If the Segway ran on hype, then electric vehicles run on reputation. And to build a good reputation, they need bulletproof reliability, even if it costs a few extra kilos of copper and steel. Now, Segways aren’t noted for motor failures, so maybe Kamen and company are indeed onto something.

But still, a highly refined motor for electric cars is a long way from “the segway platform”. Please.

Dan the barbarian says:

This scooter thing is whacked.
Look, all I want is a one or two seat car that will drive itself forty miles to where my job is, and then drive me back when my working day is done .
Nothing fancy. radio and ac would be nice since, well, yes, I get bored easily, and I live in a part of the world where the heat and humidity gets brutal.
And, please while your at it, make it burn U.S. coal (or biodiesle) instead of middle eastern oil.
Thats all I want….Thats all…. O.K. anytime now.
Oh well. Maby tomorrow.

Sam says:

The Segway could have filled a market if the cost wasn’t so outrageous. I could easily have seen it becoming part of the urban landscape to help ease the congestion of a city’s traffic.

Beyond that, the new design with its more intuitive control scheme (Specifically the turning) looks like just a whole lot of fun. The kind of thing the local a–hole rides by in making racecar noises.

Grandfather Time says:

Who are you kidding, it’s as useless as the new coke, way back in the 80’s…..

Why, in the first place, would a corporation want to employ the use of these in their facilities. Let the people walk, they’re there to work, not be lazy and zip around on a two wheeled gyro-kabob all day…..

I remember being woken up by my Brother’s voice cawing over and over, like a raven in a piece of Poe literature,….”LOOK LOOK LOOK LOOK LOOK!”. Then the awful silence, and him uttering, “That’s it?”, after waking me up at 6 am to see what this great invention was….

Yes, the pillow flew, he ducked, the lucky bastard……

What were we typing about again? Oh, yes, we had an onion tied to our belts, which was the style at the time…….

Ron Topic says:

Segway platform for robotics

There has been a lot of interest in using Segways as platforms for mobile robotics, an idea initially championed by Darpa/IPTO. They are a great platform for getting your camera/computers up at a greater height, more stably, and with more maneuverability, than traditional mobile platforms. Some info is at

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