The Segway Human Transport (HT) vehicle was invented by Dean Kamen as a means of portable transportation. It is a two-wheel vehicle that has a self-balancing design but a tad bit different to modern motorcycles. It got its name from an Italian homophone “segues” which means “to move smoothly” from one state or condition.
Dean Kamen’s Innovations
- Dean not only invented the Segway but also myriads of other devices as well, especially for medical purposes. As an undergraduate student, he invented the first wearable infusion pump for chemotherapy, neonatology, and endocrinology. In 1976, Dean established his first ever company the “AutoSyringe Inc..” However, he sold the company in 1982 and established another one called DEKA Research and Development Corporation, where he conducts and invents innovative products for his clients.
The Birth of the IBOT and Segway HT
- The development of IBOT was inspired by handicapped people who are struggling to get their wheelchair around everyday objects. He then came to a solution of making a six-wheeled motorized wheelchair that lets handicapped people climb stairs with ease.
- Dean started to create a concept of Segway in the mid-1990s, where the development of the device took approximately $100 million. The Segway was inspired by his IBOT device in terms of balance and used the technology once again. The Segway used multiple microprocessors and solid-state gyro sensors to balance itself. There are handlebars for the driver to use. Its brake system is a bit different from what we know today. Conventional brakes don’t work because it needed the wheels to balance the weight. The braking process only works when the device stops moving where the energy exerted by the Segway will be transferred back to the batteries.
- The Segway became Dean’s revolutionary inventions and garnered popularity compared to IBOT. It can be maneuvered easily and works on both pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks. What’s even better is that the device has zero emissions.
Consumers First Ride of the Segway HT
- In December 2001, the Segway found its way to national television as several news reports have featured the device because of its brand new innovative experience. The hit sitcom “Frasier” even featured the Segway in a single episode.
- In February 2002, legislation was passed that allows the Segway to be operated on the public, especially sidewalks. A year later, the legislation was passed on to thirty more states which for Segway’s public operation.
- November 18, 2022, is the debut of the Segway to consumers. It was sold on Amazon for about $3000. However, it was a commercial failure and only sold 50,000 units as of March 2009. What’s even worst is the device itself has software issues that cause safety issues.
- However, Special police forces took advantage of the devices’ capability and used it to train their men for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Since then, the Segway has been used by police and security agencies for patrolling operations.