Segways Tossing Riders Due To Software Glitch

from the adding-to-the-list dept

As if Segway hasn’t been having enough problems lately, it turns out that the scooter that was originally pitched as “impossible” to fall off has a bit of a software glitch that can throw people off. It’s a pretty bad glitch, since it will cause the device’s wheels to suddenly change direction — which makes it pretty difficult to stay on board. Perhaps they should look into that anti-rollover technology that is being required for automobiles soon. In the meantime, the company has recalled all of its vehicles, which can’t be a cheap proposition for a company that’s had some trouble making money. If only they could recall all the hype that came with the company, because that seems to have been thrown off the vehicle too.

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Comments on “Segways Tossing Riders Due To Software Glitch”

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Kevin O'Connor says:

Re: Re: Commercial failure != stupid idea

I am a personal injury lawyer that concentrates in product liability cases. I have a client that suffered serious and permanent facial fractures due to a defect in the Segway she was riding on a tour. Unfortunately, people are influenced by the media hype about how silly lawsuits are destroying companies. There are a few silly sounding cases out there, but the Segway problem is not one of them. It is amazing what lawyers uncover in corporate memos that show that companies are aware of “glitches” and decide to make a cost benefit analysis that it would be cheaper to pay the injury claims, rather than recall the product. The fact that a product is recalled usually means a serious problem. The CPSC has very limited resources and can only investigate those products that it determines to be an unreasonable risk to consumers. I will try to update if some internal memos surface in my case, but often these companies make anything they turn over confidential. I wonder why? The fact is that most people do not pursue legimate claims due to the negative feeling people have toward lawsuits. This is exactly what the insurance companies are hoping people do.

Pesti says:


I wouldn’t be suprised to find out that “lawsuit” is the very thing that started this recall, reguardless if someone actually got hurt or not…I’ve rarly seen any company recall a product without having the big “L” as impetus…and as far as someone getting “Seriously Hurt”, we already know that
even a broken fingernail will get a company sued.

Anonymous Coward says:

actually it was a hidden easter egg the programmer burried deep in the progrom. kinda like the BMW 0-100 mph in under 1 second.

who knew that someone would try a combo…er…..yeah.

but in all honesty….though, it’s a simple fix. to bad it costs so much. seeing how i wouldn’t want to put a com port on a segway, that way, if some computer geek tried to hack the software, they couldn’t. imagine if someone “tweaked” the software, then sold the device, and the new owner had an accident. bamn. not cool.

so now they have to call all these back, so they can do a factory install. great.

Painterskip (user link) says:

How the story changes

We have a company here that conducts tours using Segways. Emmensly popular. We call them the Segway Parade.

The owner just left my studio and told me that the deal is that if you go way too fast, apprenetly faster than you’re supposed to, the handlebar will begin to come towards the rider and make it difficult to handle. Six incidents from 30k machines over many years. Big deal…

It a software download to fix….again, not a huge deal…

I think they’re great….

Galley (user link) says:

Not as it seems

I found this:

“What Engadget failed to mention was that this recall was initiated not by the CPSC but by Segway, and the circumstances of the “glitch” are specific, and virtually impossible when riding responsibly.

In essence, the Segway must be at speed limiter (top speed), then the control shaft must be suddenly pulled back, the rider’s foot off and then back on the platform, for the segway to reverse torque.

Again, virtually impossible unless you’re doing something silly.

I think those users who have experienced this were doing things which were, lets say, not recommended.”

segway owner says:

#20 reply is the only informative one

With a web site name of “techdirt”, I guess I should expect sensationalism, exaggeration and incomplete information. Sadly the original story and most of the response (except #20) also lack accurate information. We’ve become a society defined by sound bites, entertainews and snappy comebacks.

#20 covered most of what needed to be said. All I can add is after alot of effort I reproduced the bug described in the recall on my segway yesterday. With this firsthand knowledge, I can confirm that its “virtually impossible” to do. It took me 50 tries before I was sure I’d done it…and yes, I was wearing protective gear just in case.

Now I’ll return you to the stream of snappy comebacks and meaningless comments by people who have no firsthand (or extremely limited) experience.

Segway owner says:

I love my Segway but I have had two injuries this summer, resulting in a broken wrist and 12 stitches in my chin. I was not riding irresponsibly either time. I don’t ride my Segway anymore because I am afraid of the potential for future “software glitches”. I’m not looking for the benefit of a lawsuit…just would like to be able to trust a product I spent a boo coo on!

Just Me says:


I was permanently disabled several years ago on a Segway that was later recalled by the company and fixed. THEY clearly acknowledged it was defective at the time because they didn’t realize yet how many people were getting injured as most were probably minor and never reported. I didn’t know anything about the design defects until almost a year after the accident. I was very alarmed when I found out that Segway allowed these machines to continue to be operating out on the street, even though they KNEW of the design defect. It was only after the government stepped in and made a deal with them to recall and fix the defects that they acknowledged and took responsibility for the defect. Does that make you think before you decide that Segway is honorable? Segway is NOW arbitrarily denying that any accidents on those recalled machines were caused by a design defect error, even though they HAD acknowledged it once and had to fix them! Talk about a convenient change of heart. The machine has the potential to be a wonderful piece of equipment, but it was defective at least initially (with their acknowledgement) no matter how anybody tries to spin this fact.

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