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Take a Spin on the Segway

Techstination feature for Tuesday, December 4, 2001

It is called the Segway Human Transporter. Want to take it for a spin? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. After nearly a year of mystery, speculation and hype, inventor Dean Kamen is showing the world what it... is. And it is sort of like a super scooter... ..

"You get on it and within minutes it starts to feel like it's just an extension of you."

Think forward... and your slight body movement takes you forward... .the same for backing up, turning and stopping. How does it all work...

"The gyros feed information to computers. The computers turn that information into signals that drive servo motors that drive the wheels. And so the gyros act like your inner ear and give you balance. The computers act like your brain and process the data. The motors act like your legs to drive the wheels which act like your feet."

The Segway zips along at more than 12 miles per hour... for up to 17 miles on a charge... and uses an electronic encrypted key for security. Kamen calls it a replacement for sneakers... and safe for city sidewalks...

" I am as user friendly and as soft as any other pedestrian in a crowd... and if I run into something it hits this bar and pushes it back, it'll push me back."

The first models are being built for the Postal Service, the National Parks Service and where employees will use them to scoot around the warehouse. A lower cost, lighter weight consumer model that will sell for about three thousand dollars, according to Kamen, should be on the market in about a year. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.