This device, called the Segways Human Transporter (or simply “Segway”) doesn’t look all that extraordinary at first. It looks more like a high-tech scooter. However, those who have used it claim it to be much more than that — a different way of getting around.
Dean Kamen, the Segway’s inventor, had high hopes for it. He stated that the Segway would be “to the car what the horse and buggy were to him” in a Time Magazine interview.
The Segway may not have lived up to its potential, but it is an incredible machine. We’ll be discussing what makes the Segway stand out from other vehicles and why its inventor believed it could revolutionize the world.
Dean Kamen described the Segway as the “first self-balancing human transportation” when he unveiled it on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” You can see the Segway in motion to get an idea of his meaning.
Segway has only two wheels, which is quite different from a car. It looks like a hand truck but it can stand on its own.
The Segway allows the rider to move forward or reverse on its own by allowing them to lean slightly in either direction. To turn left or right on the Segway, the rider just turns the right handlebar in the opposite direction.
This is what makes the Segway so unique and is also the reason it works. It is helpful to look at Kamen’s model of the Segway — the human body — to understand how the system works.
You won’t likely fall if you stand tall and lean forward so you are not balanced. Your brain detects that you are out of balance the fluid in the inner ear shifts. This triggers your brain to move your leg forward to stop the fall. Your brain will continue to put your legs forward if you keep leaning forward. Instead of falling, you move forward, one step at a time.
Segway’s function is similar, but it has wheels instead. It also has a motor instead. Segway can detect when you are leaning forward, just like your brain. It adjusts the speed to maintain balance so that you can move forward.
The Segway, in its most basic form, is composed of several sensors, a control, and a motor system. We’ll be looking at each one in this section.
An assembly of gyroscopes is the primary sensor system. The basic gyroscope consists of a spinning wheel within a stable frame. Because an applied force is applied along with the object, a spinning object can resist changes in its axis of movement. For example, if you push on a point at top of spinning wheels, it will move to the front of that wheel while it feels the force applied. The force balances itself as the point of force continues to move. Learn more at How Gyroscopes work.