2 or 3 years ago, the media was filled with information about “IT”…the gyroscopic wheelchair that could go upstairs, downstairs and never fall. They originally sold for 25,000 each. Then I remember reading something negative about them and haven’t heard or read about them since. Can my fellow dopers clue me in on what happened to it? Please?
“IT” is what is now known as the Segway Human Transporter. The wheelchair you refer to was a previous invention by the Segway’s inventor.
Well, after the Segway came out, and people laughed, I think the inventor changed ‘IT’ to mean a whole new transportation system, based on ‘it’.
The wheelchair still exists. I think some of the technology was used in the Segway, but the wheelchair is a separate product.
basicly, so far, the idea has failed miserably. You’ll see them from time to time in movies (the two wheeled go-cart, not the wheelchair, i’m talking about) or on late night talk shows…
but overall, the general public has laughed at the idea that they would ever use such an unwieldly contraption.
I DID here that some large city USPS were looking to use them though.
The negative thing may have been a small bug in the Segway that caused a few people to fall over. I believe it was related to quick braking/decceleration, and was at least 50% user error. Didn’t seem like a big deal, but there was plenty of media ready to launch an anti-Segway story.
It also had the major drawback that use of it on pavements (sidewalks) was immediately declared illegal all over the place. And it’s not road legal either. Not safe to use among pedestrians and certainly not among vehicles; so where do you use it?
As further evidence of its joke status, if you watch the show Arrested Development, GOB (a failed magician and unwanted in general) rides a Segway.
What I’ve heard is that the results of the USPS’s tests are largely negative. Mail carriers usually sort mail while walking their route. They can’t sort mail while riding a Segway, so whatever time they save by riding is eaten up by having to stop and sort the mail. Basically, they aren’t worth the pricetag.
As I said when the thing first came out, I can see Segways finding a niche as a recreational vehicle (like an urban version of a quad-bike or a snowmobile) but they’re just not practical for everyday life.
Yep. I recall the President fell off of one after he tried to ride it but forgot to turn it on first. :smack:
The Ambassador Force of Downtown Atlanta (a tourist assistance group) uses Segways to get around.
Also, I understand there are popular Segway tours of Paris.
But no, it doesn’t seem that they’ve caught on with consumers. Speaking as a potential consumer, I wouldn’t mind having one. (I could commute to my office with a Segway and save a car trip on nice days.) It’s the price that is off-putting to me. ($4,000 for the cheapest model at Amazon.com.) Tough to justify that expense.
This may not be what you’re talking about, but there was a recall of all Segways in September 2003 due to a software bug. It was a battery management problem and not user error. The recall notice also revealed that only 6000 had been sold at that point.
Here’s the latest I’ve seen on the chair. At it’s price, it’s very much an early adopters kind of thing. Also, not everybody can use it.
IAN disabled, but if I were paraplegic and somebody said that for $29K I could put my faith in whirring gyros, I’d probably wait a while to see about safety, reliability, and ownership costs.
I’m willing to bet this technology does have a future, however. Get something similar down to $10K, and I think it’ll really take off. The problem, as always, is that the number of potential users has to justify the investment that it would take to make the technology more accessible. The market for high tech wheelchairs is a lot smaller than that for microwaves and DVD players.
I believe that the reason it took so long for the wheelchair to be released is that the company choose to go through the FDA process for approving the wheelchair to be prescribed by doctors (and presumably covered by insurance). So I doubt that most people will have to pay for it themselves.
Maybe eventually, but I think the current reason for restricting access to the chairs is to limit the manufacturer’s legal liability, always a wise thing to do in these United States. This is not something that insurance companies are likely to pay for. Ask someone who’s disabled how forthcoming insurers are in covering basic needs.
The student newspaper here had a story about a student who was one of the first Segway customers and brought it proudly to campus . . . only to be immediatly “pulled over” (would you call it that?) by the Kampus Kops and told that they were forbidden on campus.
However, they aren’t banned (yet?) on city sidewalks and the electric company meter readers use them in summertime. (Haven’t seen any since it got icy.)
I think the deathblow to the Segway was the lack of a niche. Even if it were legal on pavement, what would you use it for? You’re standing while riding one, and for safety reasons, you don’t want to go much faster than a pedestrian, which means that the practical range isn’t much more than that of a pedestrian. Anywhere you could Segway to, you could walk to. Plus, there are already various scooters, motorized skateboards, and the like already available, many of which allow you to sit, and most of which are more compact than the Segway. And then there’s always the old standby, the bicycle. What can a Segway do that can’t be done already by a cheaper and more convenient means?
The speculation about what “It” was ended up being ore fun then what it ended up being.
I remember speculation from it being some sort of new battery to a portable wireless internet device to it being a sort of holo-vision tv set.
I see segways at tourist rental places. Lined up next to the tandem bicycles sit down trikes.
They were banned in Key West, FL, too dangerous to bar-hop with one of those I guess.
Disney uses them at Disney World in Orlando. I’ve seen them used there mostly by parking lot workers.
I had an opportunity to ride one a while back. Total fun! I really wish I had a couple of thousand clams of disposable income to buy one.