Punching someone in the face on a segway

If someone is on a segway and gets punched will the gyroscopes in the wheels adjusting to the force of the blow cause their face to absorb more of the energy? With a normal punch the force is usually converted into motion, causing the other person to fall backwards. However since a segway attempts to counteract those laws of physics would being punched while on a segway cause more damage than being punched in general, or are the gyroscopes too weak to matter? I guess if the gyroscopes were powerful enough you’d have one of those punching clowns, which would be interesting to see.

This sounds like something that should be on Maddox.

The victim will indeed absorb more of the energy from the punch than if he were free-standing, and therefore take more damage. In the extreme case, it would be as bad as if the Segway were firmly rooted to the ground. Of course, even there, the person could step/roll/fall backwards off the Segway (even though the vehicle itself would stay standing).

What’s more interesting is the fact that, even if you punch straight on, directly from the front, it’ll cause the Segway to tend to tip over to one side. I don’t know which way the flywheel turns in a Segway; if it’s clockwise, it’d tip to the left, and if it’s counterclockwise, it’d tip to the right.

Why do you think this? The pilot’s body does not suddenly become a rigid bar just by virtue of jumping on a Segway, it still has the same intrinsic flexion and “give”. Plus, a Segway’s linear acceleration is a compensation for the pilot leaning in the direction of travel. If the pilot gets punched, they lean backwards, the Segway moves backwards. I don’t understand your rationale at all.

I did acknowledge that a person on a Segway still has a significant range of motion. But a person holding onto the handlebars will have less range of motion than a freestanding person. In the extreme case, as I said, it would be no worse than a person holding onto rigidly-fixed handlebars, which is somewhat worse than a person just standing, but not all that much.

I had not realized that leaning backwards on a Segway would cause it to reverse. But how quick is the response? Would it actually respond in the time that the fist would be in contact with the face?

Indeed they do.

These things are reactive enough to keep you upright on 2 wheels in one spot while scarcely revealing any corrective movements, so I’d have to say it is quite responsive enough.

I haven’t even seen an actual Segway, but did examine the available info closely when it came out… I’m with Brain Wreck on the person-goes-backwards bit right now.

I’m posting more to ask about the ‘gyroscopes’ being mentioned. AFAIK, the Segway uses solid state technology to detect imbalance, and corrects it dynamically with the wheel motors. No gyroscopic precession involved.

The “gyroscopic” sensors on a Segway do not stabilize the platform by acting like a big flywheel; they are not like the toy gyroscope with the roll-bar cage that we all know and love. Rather, they just serve to detect rotation of the platform around the axle of the wheels (glossing over details here). If the sensors detect that the rider is leaning forward, they decide “rider is about to pitch forward onto his face”, so they power the wheels forward to ‘catch up’ to the leaning rider. Think of yourself balancing a broomhandle on your palm; when it starts to tip, you move your palm in the direction of the tip to keep the center of gravity of the broomstick over the contact point with your palm. The sensors make this type of measurement hundreds if not thousands of times a second, but the reaction is not instantaneous.

If a rider took a punch in the face, he would react by leaning backward. Off the Segway, if he was hit hard enough, he might take a step backward or fall down. On the Segway, I suspect that he would either fall off the thing before it could react - assuming that he let go of the handles (no effect on the punch vs. being on the ground), or the Segway may do his staggering backwards for him, but really only after the punch had landed. I would bet that the punch is essentially over by the time the ‘shock wave’ travels down the rider’s neck, arms, and legs to make the deck of the Segway tip.
Now, one could propose a magic Segway with a sensor mounted directly on the skull of the rider, so that any acceleration of the skull is immediately matched by the appropriate acceleration of the wheels. Thus the merest hint of contact with a fist causes the Segway to leap away, and the blow only lands as a gentle tap. Of course, that way lies MADNESS.

[opens thread, looks around]

I thought this might be a misplaced Pit thread inspired by the other current segway thread. I was thinking “I know guys on Segways look kinda goofy, but punching the riders in the face? Isn’t that a little extreme?”

After reading this thread, now I’m wondering what happens if you ride a segway on a treadmill.


Huh, you learn something new every day. Previously, all I knew about the functioning of a Segway was what I had gleaned from the company’s own publicity, which just says vague things about “gyroscopically stabilized”. I assumed, incorrectly it seems, that that meant a big ol’ flywheel, and answered accordingly. If it’s just a matter of dynamic control, then what I said does not apply, and brossa’s take on it is probably correct.

Several years ago when I worked in a transportation research organization, I had the privilege to ride a Segway. It was a curious experience on first usage. What I found was that when you get on, and it starts moving in response to the position you’re in when you get on. Let’s say it moves forward. Because you’re not used to the mechanics of riding a Segway, you’re so shocked by the sudden movement that your instinctive response is to jerk your body backwards, which then causes the Segway to jerk backwards, and then you instinctively jerk forwards in response to that, and the cycle repeats several times for a few seconds. I saw a couple people nearly fall off it. Knowing that, I was not as surprised and mocking as some of my friends when G. W. Bush fell off a Segway a few years ago.

There’s a place down by the beach that rents Segways for about $30/hr, and one time my mom came to visit and we tried it. It’s not interesting enough to do over and over again, but it was pretty fun to do once, and it really is a license to talk to anyone.

Before they let you out the door, they make you do a little 10 minute training and run an obstacle course. You do need to learn to drive it. It doesn’t take that long, but it’s not like you can just hop on one and go. The biggest surprise to me was that only the forward and backward motion is controlled by your attitude; turning is controlled by a little throttle on one of the handle bars.

However, once you know how to ride it, you’re as maneuverable as you are on foot. You would recoil from a punch in the face, not just stand there and take it.

Sounds like the opportunity for a new “XXXTREME!!!” sport.

Well, maybe one for geeks. Perhaps you could have Has-Been Child Celebrity Segway Jousting between former child stars or somesuch; say Gary Coleman versus Wil Wheaton.


Since we live in the same city, you may bring my new keyboard directly to me now.

If you actually try the experiment, I suspect a sudden hard shove on the upper chest would be an adequate substitute for a punch in the face.

I have nothing particular to contribute to this discussion, but I do want to say that this is my favorite thread title of the day.

Actually, I do have something to contribute:

—punches ScoobyTX in the face—


I don’t know anything about Segways, but I do spend a good bit of my free time punching people in the face. A solid punch should be exactly that: a punch, not a push. It should travel with a high enough velocity and strike a small enough target space to cause damage on impact, not just push your opponent away from you.

Think about the difference between pushing a refrigerator with all your strength, and swinging a hammer at it with moderate force. Pushing it will scoot the fridge across the floor, but the higher velocity and smaller contact area of the hammer will likely punch a hole though it. The result on the Segway would be just like brossa said: the punch would do its damage before the Segway could do anything about it. To torture an analogy a bit, Kennedy was moving away from the book depository when the bullet struck his head, but not fast enough to matter (and if you point out he was traveling towards the the grassy knoll, you’ll get such a pinch).

.You are referring to a Segway Transporter? Or to a mispellig of segue: a transition?
Assuming the former it would depend on the response time of the entire system.
Take into consideration the flexibility/rigidity of the rider, the force of the blow, the plasticity of the area punched, the plasticity of the hand or glove on the hand of the puncher, and the character of the response time characteristics of the gyro system itself.
I would expect the same or slightly less trauma than if not being on a Segway.
Why not put it to the an actualt test, taking a hit on one side on the Segway and one on the other side off?

It is a classic Wesley Clark thread. Like most, it’s a lot more fun if you imagine it being posted by the retired general/ presidential candidate. It’s got me imagining whole fight sequences on Segways. Perhaps something inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video.

The next time my dad is riding his, I could ask him if I could punch him in the face. Strictly for research purposes, of course…

Somehow, I don’t think he’ll go for it.

It cracks me up that some people have such trouble on them. It really only takes a few minutes to get the hang of it.