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Segways for Sale to Consumers? Not Soon

Techstination feature for Thursday, May 16, 2002

Good news and bad news for fans of the Segway. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The Segway Human Transporter... is the contraption unveiled amidst so much mystery and fanfare by inventor Dean Kamen nearly six months ago. In the almost whimsical headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire... .I took a ride... (sound) a little wobble and then sheer amazement. I sat down in the inventor's office... a big stuffed bear in one corner. A chair, carved and painted to look like Albert Einstein next to a coffee table. Rule number one, don't call the Segway HT a scooter...

"It's very important that people understand that the application of this technology is to make an empowered pedestrian. So we don't want to be called a scooter."

The good news is there are numerous trials going on using police officers, postal workers, national park rangers and warehouse employees...

"We've built a few hundred of them for those kinds of them for those kinds of purposes and I'm happy to say that each and every one of the groups we've given them to at this point, at least all the ones I know of, is very happy with them and wants more."

And while Kamen says the Segway HT factory a few miles a way could easily build a hundred thousand transporters this year... .he is backing off on plans to create a consumer model by year's end...

"Just letting them loose on the world as consumer products before we establish the right etiquette and the right profile for use would be a short term wonderful, exhilarating victory... and in the long term might hurt the acceptance of what we're doing."

They won't be just another recreational toy... like jet skis, he adds. More from Dean Kamen in our next report. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.