Segway VP Tony Ho Reveals A Stop to ProductionJune 27, 2020
Since the unveiling of the motorized Segway Human Transporter on December 3, 2001, the small number of 140,000 units, which was only 1.5% of the total company profit, were sold through the lifetime of the product even with the high hopes when it was invented. It was brought onto the scene and introduced with great fanfare as one of the early 21st century’s most hyped technology products. It was hoped to make getting around cities so easy and to the anticipated point that automobiles could possibly become unnecessary!
With its self-balancing and built-in computer chips, tilt sensors, gyroscopes, two wheels, and more, its champions marketed it as an environmentally-friendly way to ease traffic in the cities and to increase productivity. Segway PT’s maximum speed is 12.5 miles per hour, and it is capable of covering 24 miles on its fully-charged lithium-ion battery.
By 2006, models had been developed for law enforcement agencies and golf courses, and it has remained popular throughout the years for security purposes and tourism tours in various locations. It gained praise from tech luminaries, including Steve Jobs, who was particularly taken with the innovation. The police forces that protected the public during the 2008 Summer Olympics were happy to use the Segway; and, in 2018, the Stockholm police adopted Segways as permanent transportation to be employed by the patrollers of the old town. In 2011, the Segway i2 was marketed to the emergency medical services community.
However, factors that contributed to this end of production, just recently announced in June of 2020, included the feeling that it was outdated and not as popular added to the learning curve found by many in order to balance on one and notable accidents that occurred. The most horrendous was the death of Jimi Heselden, the British entrepreneur whose personal Segway veered off a cliff only months after purchasing the company. Currently, Ninebot, the parent company, who acquired the Segway in April of 2015, has already laid off 21 employees at the New Hampshire plant who had worked specifically on the Segway.
The inventor, Dean Lawrence Kamen, was born April 5, 1951, in Rockville Centre, New York, and now lives in Bedford, New Hampshire. He is an inventor who holds more than 1,000 patents, an engineer, and a businessman. The Segway came out of his invention of the iBot wheelchairs, introduced in 1999, that are self-balancing devices that climb stairs and can stand upright on only two wheels.
Another remarkable invention was in 2007 when he debuted a robotic arm prosthesis that was capable of delicate activities. The Disability Rights Advocates for Technology was an organization that promoted the Segway PT to be used on sidewalks as an issue of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
A most unusual of Kamen’s inventions was in 2003 when he introduced prototypes for his electric generator that would run on cow dung together with a water purifier to process raw sewage. Why? It was intended for developing countries that didn’t have centralized sources of power and water. In 2005, those devices were field-tested successfully in Bangladesh!
President Bill Clinton awarded Kamen a National Medal of Technology in 2000. In 2005, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.