When Dean Kamen unveiled the Segway® Personal Transporter (PT) on ABC's Good Morning America, he described the machine as "the world's first self-balancing human transporter." When you look at the machine in motion, you get an idea of what he's talking about. Unlike a car, the Segway PT only has two wheels, yet it manages to balance on its own.
How it Works
The Segway PT senses the lean of the rider with the assistance of five micro-machined angular rate sensors and two accelerometers that sense the angle of the PT, with respect to gravity, at 100 times per second. It balances the rider by applying forces to the ground in the direction of the lean. If you lean forward the PT applies motor torque to the wheel to push it forward, bring you upright and balance you. When you lean back, it applies reverse torque to slow you down and balance you accordingly. You get the sense of power and speed, yet you also feel a sense of control. It all feels natural, intelligent and safe.
What it Can Do
The Segway PT can take you places that a car or bicycle can't - including inside many stores, office buildings, businesses, airports, elevators and trains. Although they're ideal for short jaunts, Segway PTs can travel as far as 24 miles/38 km on a single battery charge, depending on terrain, payload and riding style.
It's ahead of its time
Like any invention that's ahead of its time, the Segway PT is often misunderstood. The gleeful smiles of Segway PT riders may have created an impression that it is ...well...a toy. But make no mistake. While a Segway PT is incredibly fun to ride, it is serious transportation designed for today's world.