From Sydney Morning Herald.
Segway into a new type of transport
Out and about ... Inventor Dean Kamen takes the
Segway for a spin in New York. Photo: AFP
Capping months of speculation about his mysterious
innovation, inventor Dean Kamen today unveiled the
device he believes will do to the car what the car did
to the horse - revolutionise transport in the city.
Kamen and his backers are banking on the Segway
Human Transporter - a gyroscope-stabilised,
battery-powered scooter codenamed IT and Ginger -
to displace cars, leading to a realigned cityscape that's
"Cars are great for going long distances. But it makes
no sense at all for people in cities to use a 1,800-kg
piece of metal," Kamen told Time magazine.
This morning, Kamen and the hosts of ABC's Good Morning America took the scooter for a spin in Manhattan's Bryant Park, demonstrating manoeuvres and cruising up and down ramps
as crowds watched.
The two-wheeled Segway, which looks like a cross between a hand mower and a Razor scooter, travels at up to 19 kph, said Kamen spokesman Dave Chapman.
It's designed to be difficult to fall from or knock over because of gyroscopes that work to keep it upright. Speed and direction are controlled by the rider's shifting weight.
Riders stand upright over the invention's single axle, navigating with a bicycle-like handlebar. A single battery charge can propel the scooter 24 km over level ground.
Kamen, whose Manchester, New Hampshire-based DEKA Research and Development company will oversee production, said the Segway requires about US10 cents' (A19.2 cents)
worth of electricity for a six-hour charge.
Kamen holds roughly 100 US patents. His other inventions include the heart stent used by Vice-President Dick Cheney, a wheelchair that climbs stairs and the first portable kidney dialysis machine.
The Postal Service and the City of Atlanta will be among the first purchasers, buying 36-kg heavy-duty models for $US8,000 ($A15,400) apiece, Chapman said.
The Postal Service plans to test 20 Segways on mail routes in Concord, New Hampshire, and Tampa and Fort Myers, Florida, starting next month, Chapman said.
In February, Atlanta's visitor's bureau employees will begin using the scooters to patrol the tourist district, Chapman said.
A 29-kg, $US3,000 ($A5,770) consumer model won't be available for at least a year.
Segway's director of marketing, Mr Tobe Cohen, said Kamen hopes operators will be permitted to ride the Segway on city sidewalks, negating the need for licences or insurance.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ruled that Segway is not a vehicle, Cohen said. "We're working with state regulators to make sure they understand that," Cohen said.
Kamen withheld information on the Segway until he had finished filing related patents.
From the time plans for the machine were first leaked to a Web site called Inside.com almost a year ago, tantalising but vague mentions of the project kept the device in a controlled state of hype.