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Ginger/IT unveiled

2001-12-03 17:01:45+00 by Dan Lyke 11 comments

Dean Kamen's Ginger/IT/"Segway Human Transporter" has been unveiled. I don't get it. Why not 3 wheels? Aside from the "cool, it balances in one direction", what makes it any more interesting than a ZAP! Scooter, especially since the two wheels side by side makes it as much of a hazard on turns as a trike? $90 million, huh?

[ related topics: Cool Science New Economy ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:30+00 by: ziffle

or a bicycle.... for about $100 -- uses even less electricity - uuhh does it rain anywhere? Is air conditioning available as an option? Watching it not fall over would be cool.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:30+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm also not totally up on the physics thing, but the Segway website describes how it works:

Lean forward and you move forward. Lean more, and you move faster. Straighten up and you glide to a stop. Lean back, and you move in reverse. Rotate your wrist in either direction, and you turn.

So say you hit a curb that this thing can't move forward enough to compensate for. On a scooter, you'd be leaning back. On this beast, you'd be in prime face-plant position.

Maybe he'll be able to play the politics such that his vehicle is the only powered vehicle allowed on sidewalks. I'll sure fight that hard.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:31+00 by: TC

I was thinking about the time when Mopeds were a new thing and teenage girls(boys too but I never watched them) were learning to master the general operation and invarably they would panic and instead of applying the brake they would twist the throtle wide open much to the many bystanders enjoyment. I see a new form of entertainment on the horizon.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:31+00 by: ziffle

Well I watched the movie - it does look like fun. I'll wait till they come down to $495 ...

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:31+00 by: Dori

Okay, I'll play devil's advocate. Why is the Segway so much better than rollerskates? Is it really 10-100x as wonderful?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:31+00 by: ziffle

this is not the Dori from boogie nights, right?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:31+00 by: Dan Lyke

Dori: Because if you can pay $3k for a ludicrously over-engineered toy, then obviously you're an upstanding member of the community, and not one of those ne'er-do-well skate punks who might be bad for our business.

Or so says this bitter sometime skater who's tried to turn semi-urban environments into car-optional places before...

The only way any alternative to the car will become popular is when we stop subsidizing cars so heavily with tax dollars, and the cost of driving a car directly maps to the real costs of road maintenance, increased pollution, and unsafe neighborhoods. No matter how easy Segway makes it to get around, people using it are still going to have the same issues that vehicles like skates and bicycles, and semi-motorized vehicles like the ZAP! bikes and scooters, face integrating with both automobile and pedestrian traffic: Either you're going to be viewed as a target or a projectile.

Unless those tens of millions of dollars are going to a political campaign, some set of investors is going to get screwed over heavily. Hopefully it'll happen before this company goes public.

Other unanswered question: How do you park this thing? At 80lbs, it's not like I'd drag it up the stairs at work every morning, but it's light enough that I couldn't just have an ignition lock for parking outside, and it's already hard to find good places to store bicycles where they don't get vandalized or stolen.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:31+00 by: Larry Burton

Folks, I'm next to positive that this is just a prototype to prove the technology. Next Kamen will combine Ginger with his ATV wheelchair and you'll ride this thing right up the steps to your office. As the design gets more refined, the weight and size will drop and the power and range will increase . . . and the price on this thing will drop. Today it's a toy and a novelty but there is no telling where it will go.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:31+00 by: Dori

Ziffle: haven't seen Boogie Nights, so your best bet on that one is to ask someone who's met me. Dan, for instance.

Dan: yeah, I knew this was the right place to ask this question.

Larry: when I'm not playing devil's advocate, I actually agree with you. I think that version 3 will be amazing. I live in a town which is 3 miles end to end, so something along these lines would actually suit me quite well. Our best case scenario: we end up with a Segway 3 + one car instead of the two cars we currently have.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:32+00 by: topspin

I gotta think this critter could be a hit in China. Less auto traffic there, folks conditioned to accept "open cockpit" transportation, and courteous behavior characteristics. But ziffle's right.... why should they give up their bikes?

In America, it'll make personal injury attorneys and orthopedic surgeons grin like hookers looking at a bunch of fresh-outta-boot-camp Marines.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:32+00 by: ebradway

Lean to go faster - twist handle to go slower - what happens when you drive the thing in the wind? Or does it not work in Chicago?

I doubt it'll change society at all. The internet appeared to change society because it was an entirely new thing to most people. Segway is a replacement for something people like too much.